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THE SOUL OF DORSET 



t f 



A 




THE MAYPOLE AT BURTON BRADSTOCK 

Design of a picture by Albert Rutherston, in the possession of 
M. H. Salaman Esq. 



79070 

THE 
SOUL OF DORSET 



79070 

F. J. HARVEY DARTON 



" This other Eden, demi-paradise. . . . 
England, bound in with the triumphant sea.' 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
1922 




- 



-DA 
GTO 



Printed in Great Britain at 
The Mayflower Press, Plymouth. William Brendon & Son, Ltd. 



TO 

RUTH 



PREFACE 

THIS book has been written as a pleasure to myself 
over a period of twenty years, in the intervals of 
a busy life. It began as an attempt to describe, 
mainly for the use of friends who shared that life, most of 
them now dead, the admirable fitness of Dorset for walking 
tours. But the more I walked in that county and there 
is only one little corner of it that I have not visited at least 
once the more I learnt of England ; and I modified my 
original idea. It seemed to me that here, on the frontier 
of England (for Dorset was really that until late in the 
Middle Ages), I had the true story of England ; not the 
extremes of romance and war and politics, but the mean. 
So I changed my plan, and have tried to do or combine three 
things in each chapter of the book to sketch very slightly 
the main tendency of English history in a series of epochs ; 
to apply that history to its local exhibition in Dorset ; and, 
finally, to describe a string of places, within the compass 
of a reasonable day's walk, in which some remains of the 
epoch dealt with are still patent. The Buttier at the end 
" ruttier " is a good old word borrowed from a great English 
classic, and might well be restored as a shibboleth for alleged 
patriots shows how these walks can be combined and 
worked out in practice. But I have not attempted (God 
forbid) to write a " gossiping guide," or series of "rambles " : 
my concern is at least as much with my country as with the 
county in it which I love best. 
I do not think I have mentioned any place or building 

vii 



viii PREFACE 

which in the course of happy years I have not seen for 
myself ; not as an antiquary, but as (with exceptions) a 
healthy person using his proper legs. But my personal 
knowledge would be small but for certain invaluable 
publications, to which I render the warmest thanks : the 
Proceedings of the Dorset Field Club, Somerset and Dorset 
Notes and Queries, the Victoria County History, and the 
original of them all, Hutchins' Dorset. I owe much in the 
earlier chapters to Mr. Hadrian Allcroft's Earthwork of 
England. There are a number of less universal works 
those of Coker, Warne, Roberts, and others to which the 
same general gratitude must be given, as also to national 
works of reference of all kinds. It would be tedious to 
enumerate the books devoted to special periods or places 
which have been of assistance (like Mr. Damon's on Geology, 
Mr. Robinson's on Purbeck, Mr. Bayley's on the Civil War, 
Mr. Moule's on Dorchester), or the smaller local histories 
or pamphlets which in many cases have led me to fuller 
investigation. Dorset is rich in competent local historians, 
and I hope rather than am certain that I am indebted to 
them all. When I have quoted them directly, or when they 
seem to be the sole authority for the facts involved, I have 
mentioned them by name in the text. 

I do not pretend to the status of an historian, any more 
than to that of an antiquary. I am quite sure that a 
specialist in either kind can condemn me in detail, because 
if there is one thing I learnt of my kindly mother, Oxford, 
it is that the omniscient scholar cannot and does not exist. 
Life would not be worth living if he did exist. What I have 
tried to do is to see the chief activities of each successive 
age in one English county sympathetically, and to illustrate 
them by local facts. I want to dwell upon what he whom 
we used to know as Mr. Balfour long ago called subordinate 
patriotism. If in my later chapters I have touched with an 



PREFACE ix 

apparent lack of proportion on the difficulties of the farmer 
and his man, it is because I believe that only in their solution 
will England find her true soul. If the agricultural labourer, 
under conditions which raise him above the beasts (" beast " 
is the Dorset plural) he tends, can really come to have a 
pride in the country he has made habitable through centuries 
of dumb toil, and a pride likewise in the past hopes and 
heroisms I have tried to chronicle, then God prosper 
England. But if not, if he is always to be " the 
poor," God help us, and forgive those who keep him 
in that state. 

I am very grateful to friends for help : to Mrs. Ruth 
Williams for reading the manuscript and proofs and making 
suggestions; to Mr. F. Harcourt Kitchin (seduced from 
Devon for a few weeks) for a valuable, if painful, decimation 
of the manuscript, and to Mr. Cyril Hurcomb for reading 
part of the proofs ; to my publishers, friends of old standing, 
for other suggestions as well as for their kindly practical 
interest ; to Mr. Albert Rutherston for letting me use a 
delightful picture in which, as his original guide to West 
Dorset, I may claim almost a god-paternal interest ; to Mr. 
Charles Aitken, keeper and fosterer of the Tate Gallery, 
for leave to reproduce Stevens' portrait of his benefactor, 
and for valuable suggestions; to Mr. Wilson Steer and 
Mr. Gwynne- Jones for the use of pictures of the county in 
which they, too, have been happy ; and to Mr. C. J. Sawyer 
for finding and lending some engravings. 

The Index is not meant to cover historical periods as 
such the chapters do that nor special subjects. When- 
ever a person or place occurs more than once and is given 
particular attention, the chief reference is placed first, 
irrespectively of order of pagination. The Appendix 



x PREFACE 

(except for one or two necessary entries) is not included in 
it, because it is so arranged thafc the itinerary of each 
chapter coincides with the pictured Ruttier or chapter- 
heading. These Ruttiers are by Miss Ruth Cobb, to 
whom I am indebted for her care and adaptability. The 
prefatory quotations also are not included. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

PEACE Page 

To-day's inheritance of the ages. Its value for probate ... 1 
A Ruttier of the Coast of Dorset 3 

CHAPTER II 

BEFORE THE FLOOD 

Man's conquest of Nature, and its difficulty in Dorset. Nature's 
dictation of conditions to Man. The beasts that perish and 
have perished, from the beginning until the Iberian and the Celt 
appeared. The dragons of Lyme Regis . . . . .11 

A Ruttier of the way from Poole Harbour to West Lulworth . . 13 

CHAPTER III 

THE HILLS OP THE DEAD 

The Iberian and the Celt in Dorset. Their great works, and the spirit 

of lost kingdoms. The past that lives . . . . .37 
A Ruttier of a way from Dorchester to Abbotsbury ... 39 

CHAPTER IV 

THE GREEN ROADS 

The Roman dominion from A.D. 49 to A.D. 416. The Roman Peace 

in a Dorset farm. The legionary on a Dorset road . . .61 

A Ruttier of the Roman Way from Badbury Rings to Dorchester and 

beyond .......... 53 

CHAPTER V 

THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 

The Dark Ages of Saxon and Danish conquest, from A.D. 416 to A.D. 
1066. The envelopment of Dorset. The Kings Ine and Alfred 
and Cnut, Bishop Aldhelm and Abbot ^Elfric . . . .71 

A Ruttier of Edward the Martyr's way from Corfe Castle to Shaffces- 

bury 78 

xi 



^ CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VI 

THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS PQQG 

The Normans who took and possessed Dorset in the year 1066 and 

thereafter . . 

A Ruttier of the Norman habitations between Maiden Newton and 

Powerstock . . * 93 

CHAPTER VII 

THE GREAT ABBEYS AND THE AGE OF FAITH 

The wars, pestilences, and famines that lay between the Normans of 
1066 and the Tudor settlement of 1500. The spirit of Holy 
Church. The spirit of Kings ... . 105 

A Ruttier of a way from Maiden Newton through Cerne Abbas to Bere 

Regis . . . ... . . .107 

CHAPTER VIH 

THE NEW RICH 

The change of lordship in Dorset. The merchants and seamen and 

common folk of the Tudor reigns. Raleigh at Sherborne . . 129 
A Ruttier of a way from Burton Bradstock to Sherborne % - . 131 

CHAPTER IX 

PRINCES IN FLIGHT 

The quarrelsome days and petty life of the Stuarts' reigns. Prince 
Charles in flight through Dorset, King Monmouth in triumph and 
in ignominy. The Bloody Assize , , . . . 157 

A Ruttier of the Princes' road from Lyme Regis to Bridport and 

thereabouts . 159 



CHAPTER X 

THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 

Some persons of quality in Dorset in the eighteenth century. A 
Nabob, a politician, a poet, a murderer, some great families, and 
a parcel of gipsies. The Canning case reconsidered . . .187 

A Ruttier of the gipsies' wanderings from South Perrott to Abbots - 

bury and Dorchester . . 189 

CHAPTER XI 

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 

Farmer George at Weymouth. John Wesley in Dorset . 223 

A perambulation of Lyme Regis .... 225 



CONTENTS xiii 

CHAPTER XII 

MARINERS OP ENGLAND Page 

The seamen and Admirals of Dorset, especially during the wars with 
Bonaparte. The Hoods, "Nelson's Hardy," the Byves', the 
privateers. Captain Coram . . . . . 9 .241 

A Ruttier of the coast-way from Bridport Harbour to Abbotsbury 

and Weymouth ......... 243 

CHAPTER XIII 

THE SEQUESTERED VALE 

The enclosure of commons. The misery of the labourer. The Dor- 
chester Martyrs ......... 269 

A Ruttier of a way from Beaminster round and through Marshwood 

Vale to Bridport 271 

CHAPTER XIV 

HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OP HEABT 

The nineteenth century in Dorset, and its great men Alfred Stevens, 

William Barnes, Shaftesbury, Thomas Hardy . . . .295 

A Ruttier of a way from the hills to the valley and back from 

Shaftesbury to Sturminster Newton and Blandford . , .297 

CHAPTER XV 

AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 

Peace? Where are we ? 315 

A Ruttier across mid -Dorset, from Evershot to Blandford . .317 



APPENDIX 
How to link all the Ruttiers into one 333 

INDEX . 345 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



THE MAYPOLE AT BUBTON BBADSTOCK . , . frontispiece 
Design of a picture by Albert Rutherston, in the possession of 

M. H. Salamav, Esq. 

Facing page 

LULWOBTH COVE . . . .32 

From a painting by Allan Guynne-Jones 

ST. CATHEBINE'S CHAPEL, ABBOTSBUEY . . ... .48 

From a drawing by C. Dayes, 1802 

COBFE CASTLE . . . . , . . . .78 

From a painting by P. Wilson Steer 

CEBNE ABBEY GATEWAY . . . . .112 

Engraved from a drawing by J. W. Upham 

THE WEYMOUTH OP GEOBGE III . . . . . . 228 

From an engraving of 1789 

BBIDPOBT HABBOUB . . . . . . . . .256 

From an engraving of a drawing by J. M. W t Turner, 22 A. 

POBTBAIT OP A CLEBGYMAN ; BELIEVED TO BE OF THE REV. THE 

HON. SAMUEL BEST. BY ALFBED STEVENS .... 300 
From a drawing in the Tate Gallery, by permission of the Trustees 



I 

Lords and Commons of England, consider what nation it is whereof ye 
are and whereof ye are the governors ; a nation not slow and dull, but 
of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and 
sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point, the highest 
that human capacity can soar to. . . . What could a man require 
more from a nation so pliant and so prone to seek after knowledge ? 
What wants there to such a towardly and pregnant soil but wise and 
faithful labourers, to make a knowing people, a nation of prophets, 
of sages, and of worthies ? We reckon more than five months yet to 
harvest ; there need not be five weeks ; had we but eyes to lift up, 
the fields are white already." 

JOHN MILTON, 

Areopagitica. 

" This season's Daffodil, 

She never hears, 
What change, what chance, what chill, 

Cut down last year's : 
But with bold countenance, 

And knowledge small, 
Esteems her seven days' continuance 
To be perpetual." 

RUDYARD KIPLING, 

Songs from Books. 



I 

PEACE 



WlMBORNE / 




f 1 | "^HE England of my dreams is of a magical nature. 
It appears to me as a green chalk hill, high and 

JL strong, running towards the sunset. Far behind 
you, as you walk westward, lie the smoke and wealth of 
herded men who are English, too, but do not live in my 
dream-country. In the bottoms that run north and south 
into the long ridge are secret and friendly villages, the homes 
of those who have made the earth rich by their secular 
labour. The hill ends in a little forsaken port, where change 
comes not, nor does any man grow old. 

That England is built up partly from my intimate love 
of one place, Bridport Harbour in Dorset, where the world 
for me seems to end, and partly from many walks I have 
taken on the Dorset hills on my way to that haven of rest. 
Once in particular I seemed to be really in that England 
of my fantasy. I stood with a companion in great content- 



4 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

ment on a great hill, looking out over the blue and golden 
mists where Bridport lay against the dazzling sea. The 
earth stretched away into infinite sunshine, and I felt as if 
I were contemplating the ultimate peace on earth for which 
the ages have striven, and were a part of it, able to continue 
in it for ever. Yet as I turned away I knew I must soon go 
back to less happy places, must face menacing hopes and 
fears, perform tasks, live and die : not dream. 

At the slight suggestion of death there came into my 
memory an incongruous recollection ; no dream, but a 
comment upon civilization. I was sitting many years ago 
in the bar-parlour of an inn at Bridport Harbour, where 
the mariners and coastguards assembled cheerfully of an 
evening. Some of us were playing whist, some talking or 
eating bread and cheese, all drinking from straight mugs. 
Suddenly a head came round the door, and a voice said 
" Dick, you're wanted." One of my companions got up and 
went out, and a moment later summoned a second to join him. 
They were absent about half an hour, and then came back 
and resumed beer and whist without delay or explanation. 

I asked Dick later why he had been called away. " Old 

P 's dead," he replied. " Died in a fit, all hunched up. 

We had to go and lay him out. He'd got stiff, and I had to 
sit on his knees to straighten him." 

When that scene flickered so irrelevantly across my 
mind on Eggardon Camp, I wondered idly, as we looked out 
from the hill towards the sea, whether, five thousand years 
ago, when perhaps the Camp was first dug, the reason why 
the Stone Age men were often buried (as they were) " all 
hunched up " in their barrows was that they had not 
thought of Dick's simple remedy for rigor mortis. His 
matter-of-fact grimness made our civilization appear a very 
primitive thing. It made the fancy of a happy England, 
in which society shall really have become stable and painless, 
seem a childish invention. And it gave me also the feeling 
that the development of mankind may have been like a bad 
cinematograph drama repetitive, discontinuous, and futile ; 



PEACE 5 

and that our progress may not yet have gone far, if one looks 
at it honestly. 

Yet that night as I stood on the little black wooden pier 
at West Bay (Bridport Harbour's alias), and watched the 
still beauty of the moonlit sea, the conviction came back 
to me that there is, after all, something of true peace in an 
English county some solid precipitate left after the shaking 
of the centuries. I thought of other places and experiences 
in that divine county which had given me the same con- 
viction. 

I remembered especially one occasion when I had gone 
down to the " mother and lover of men, the sea," between 
that pier and its absurd brother. It was on a coastwise 
vessel, a squat broad craft of two hundred or three hundred 
tons, such as the vanished Bridport shipyard used to build 
a generation ago. Ships have to be warped out to the pier- 
heads here. You bump, sailless, down between the tiny 
piers, creaking, rattling : familiar voices cry commands 
from the ship and from the harbour in turn ; and all the 
sounds seem separate and ineffably distant, because you are 
upon a dead hulk, a shell moved by alien hands : a ship 
being warped out has no soul. But in a little while the last 
friendly voice dies : the last rope flies curling and flaps 
upon the drab deck. Blocks squeak, a winch clacks, a few 
deep orders sound ; the grey lifeless sail climbs slowly and 
jerkily with its yard, and then, with a quick writhe and a 
report like a shot, is big and round with the unseen wind. 
The sea begins to clap its hands upon the curves of the hull. 
The boat hisses, and leaps, and sways to the tiny song of 
its tackle. It is born again, a thing of mastery and move- 
ment. The pilot goes below and drinks good health to the 
skipper, and climbs laboriously down the side into his 
little cockboat ; and soon he too recedes. You are alone 
upon the curving globe. 

The port looks infinitely small now. You see it as with 
the eye of God a poor gathering-place of transitory men, 
busied with petty occasions ; no more ; little, remote, 



6 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

pathetic, like man's life itself. You have come into the real 
world, the universe where the stars march in their celestial 
motions. You and your brave ship are your own world, 
a commonwealth of high adventure. 

And yet in the distant, inconsiderable village, that now 
has become but a few twinkling candles in the strange 
depth of late twilight, there lingers the necessary and 
indefinable friendliness of humanity, which the landward 
look from the sea perceives so clearly. There is no greeting 
like that of the land to the mariner, no longing like that for 
port after stormy seas. The familiar fields, those corners 
and stones and the very puddles that you have so long ago 
learnt to avoid : the smell of a house : the steadiness of the 
little quay, the grating shingle, the people watching your 
coming : so Englishmen have always seen their land, and 
known peace of soul : 

Oh ! to be there for an hour when the shade draws in beside 

the hedgerows, 

And falling apples wake the drowsy noon : 
Oh ! for the hour when the elms grow sombre and human 

in the twilight, 
And gardens dream beneath the rising moon. 

Only to look once more on the land of the memories of child- 
hood, 

Forgetting weary winds and barren foam : 
Only to bid farewell to the combe and the orchard and the 

moorland, 
And sleep at last among the fields of home ! 

The seas and the hills and far-away enchantments may 
call a man to the ends of the earth. But at the last, before 
the conclusion of the whole matter, before the final dim 
adventure, he will cling to those poor, friendly beginnings, 
and come back, if he may, and be comforted. 

That seems to be an eternal thing. Yet is it reality, or 
only an emotion ? We come back, I say, to our squalor, 
our splendour, to our hopes and futilities in what we call 
our home. We take some sort of dwelling-place for granted, 
and search eagerly for the trivial amenities we have learnt 



PEACE 7 

to love. And yet how have we secured even that much ? 
What are the aim and value of all the efforts by generation 
after generation to master the riddle of the painful 
earth ? 

The story of those efforts may point to an answer to the 
question, What is peace ? I have tried to imagine some 
of its chapters, as they may still be read in broken letters 
in a few places in one English county. How long has it 
taken a Dorset village to reach its present state, and why 
and how have its folk won and kept a hold on life ? What 
have been their hopes, fears, successes, failures, century 
after century ? That is what I want to guess at in this book 
of local happenings. 



I will string together, by way of prophecy, so to speak, 
some incongruities of the place where I began the book. 
They may suggest something of the jumbled romance of 
mankind. Bridport itself, a beautiful eighteenth-century 
town clustered among hills, and its harbour where every 
house seems to be an afterthought, may serve thus as an 
epitome of the long story. It contains vestiges of almost the 
whole of man's life in Dorset. 

The town lies on the most permanent thing in nature a 
river, a very small river, cutting its slow way oceanward 
between hills, and dragging down soil to choke its own 
mouth ; struggling also against the sea's barrier of cast-up 
shingle. As long ago as King John's day, the harbour was 
in danger of obliteration. As late as King George V's day, 
there was talk of dredging it and deepening it to take a 
squadron of motor-boats. There has even been a proposal 
to flood the whole valley up to the town, and build a great 
breakwater from Thorncombe Beacon, and make a lordly 
harbour, rivalling Weymouth and Portland. Man seeks 
eternally to subjugate even that little stream. There is 
one chapter-heading for the story. 

Yet the river will surely survive in its own persistent way. 



8 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Consider one of its victories. Thirty years ago, when the 
little green between the Bridport Arms and Pier Terrace 
was made, they dug up a dead man in the river gravel. 
He had two great jars round the neck of his skeleton, and 
he lay in the old river-bed. There is not a word of his story 
known : whether he was a smuggler, or reveller overcome, 
or mere carrier fatally belated, or some whimsical trader 
buried fantastically no man can tell, nor when he died. 
He is but bones that carried a jar. 

Or go into the Bridport Arms and hear other stories 
from the brook. Stand on the left-hand side of the bar : 
you are in Symondsbury parish. Stand on the right : you 
are in Burton Bradstock parish. Nowhere are you in Brid- 
port parish, and yet this is part of Bridport if geography 
and politics and custom can make it so. The property of 
the church and a monastery was once divided along that 
line. In that little detail the dead hand of monasticism 
and pre-Reformation Church organization is faintly visible, 
as if striving still to grasp a shadow of power. That is 
another chapter. 

And the parish division, running thus through a house, 
is an echo of yet another side of history, of geographical 
facts. Why should it take that line ? Why should the 
old boundary cut through a venerable inn ? Because 
Dorset was made without man's leave asked or given : 
because once, when the parish boundary was determined, 
the river Brit, which was the boundary, ran along that line. 
Later it was silted up, after the manner of streams in those 
parts, and cut itself a new channel. But the old boundary 
remained on dry land. And that brings us back to the 
geological chapter. 

Look, again, at the buildings of the harbour. All to the 
east lie great stone barns, some empty, a paradise of hens, 
some full of timber for the petty commerce of the place. 
They seem to-day beyond all use in size and stability ; 
one can peer out under their huge rafters through a bright 
square of unglazed window as from a prison, the blue sea 



PEACE 9 

of freedom shining outside cruelly. They have stood there 
a hundred years or more. A generation ago, before the 
railway came and took away the sea trade, they were all 
full of hemp and jute and rope, and the linchets on the hills 
up the valley were blue with flax. All the rope for Nelson's 
ships* was made in Bridport, which for eight hundred 
years had maintained the same industry, so that " a Brid- 
port dagger " became a proverbial saying. (To be stabbed 
with that weapon a halter was the same thing as falling 
off a platform while engaged in conversation with a clergy- 
man, and resulted in your dying in your stockings and 
being put to bed with a shovel.) 

There is still great traffic in rope and twine in the clean 
town itself, two miles away. Its wide streets, because they 
were made spacious for the drying of yarn on their pave- 
ments, are the comeliest in Dorset. But the glory is departed 
from the barns at the harbour. One ship, before the war, 
still came specially from Russia every year with hemp : 
almost all the other boats that blunder between the piers 
are coasters bringing coal or timber, and going out with the 
exceeding fine shingle that the inexhaustible sea frets off 
the Chesil pebbles, and casts up year by year, without 
diminution, for the streets of cities and the manufacturer 
of concrete. 

And lastly, to continue these haphazard clutches at the 
past, observe certain chapter-headings in Bridport town 
itself. Look at the Fives Court wall by the Fives Court 
Inn (now being obscured by a garage), for instance : 
this was built in 1847 by merchants of the town, who in 
those days kept, as in Dorchester and Blandford also, a 
social state of dignity and ordered well-being : they used, 
for example, to send their Madeira to Newfoundland (a 
great Dorset trade, three centuries old) and back, in their 

* And the rope for King John's ships, and for Henry VIII's ships, and 
all and sundry ships of England : and much wire netting to catch the 
evil fish that came out of Germany in 1915 : and likewise lanyards for 
Jellicoe's bosuns. Moreover, to some extent, flax-growing has been 
revived : a ripple from the stone thrown into world-markets by the 
Russian Revolution. 



10 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

own ships, to mature it. Or the local ironwork railings on 
the Harbour Eoad : there is no iron ore near here ; they 
are a century old. Or the decent Town Hall. Or the 
magnificent collection of Borough records (Bridport had a 
mint in the days of Athelstan).* Or the open-air rope- 
walks. Or the warning, just outside the town, that anyone 
who damages the county bridge will be transported for life 
signed by an official whose family surname under George III 
began with a capital F, but now begins with if. Or a 
thousand other odd and discrepant vestiges of creation. 

I want to know what such things mean, and their relative 
significance in time ; what expression they really are of 
the spirit of man, and where man has got to in this one piece 
of England. It seems to me that I may be able to guess more 
nearly what the progress of mankind has been (if there has 
been any progress) by visualizing it in a single county (and 
in a county of which I love every inch) ; by trying to find 
out with what intention our forefathers built or fought or 
lived since man came into England, and what kind of Dorset 
the first man in it and the generations after him have found 
and altered. 

* Almost, but not quite, certainly. It is not determined whether Bredy 
(up the Bride valley) was not the " town " so honoured, though if so its 
glory departed very quickly. 



II 

" It is a question if the exclusive reign of orthodox beauty is not approach- 
ing its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempo may be a gaunt waste 
in Thule : human souls may find themselves in closer and closer 
harmony with external things wearing a sombreness distasteful to our 
race when it was young. The time seems near, if it has not actually 
arrived, when the chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a mountain 
will be all of nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods 
of the more thinking among mankind. And ultimately, to the 
commonest tourist, spots like Iceland may become what the vine- 
yards and myrtle gardens of South Europe are to him now ; and 
Heidelberg and Baden be passed unheeded as he hastens from the 
Alps to the sand-dunes of Scheveningen." 

THOMAS HARDY. 
The Return of the Native. 

" BBOADBENT (stopping to snuff up the hillside air). Ah ! I like this spot. 
I like this view. This would be a jolly good place for a hotel and a 
golf links. Friday to Tuesday, railway ticket and hotel all inclusive." 

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, 

John Bull's Other Island. 



II 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 



TUDLAND 





-Hf- 

Church K-nowIe 
Creech Boyr-ou; x - . I ^f 

,---""" ( 

RS-BATOOW KIMMERIDGL'- 



STRICTLY speaking, I suppose, the history of man 
in Dorset should begin with a conjectural account 
of the origin of all life with the atom, the ion, the 
amoeba, the nebular hypothesis, and a view of the (till 
lately) infinite space where stars grow into worlds. But 
(praise be !) I know nothing of world-physics, nothing of 
astronomy, nothing even of astrology ; I cannot so much 
as cast a horoscope, which seemingly almost any clerk in the 
Middle Ages could achieve. In this book, therefore, I shall 
speak of the celestial universe (three- or four -dimensioned 
space and its contents) no further than to point out, upon 
this opportunity, that the monkish clock in Wimborne 
Minster is wrong when it alleges in a pantomime, as it has 
alleged for six hundred years past, that the sun travels 
round the earth. 

But if one pretermits these huge speculations, it is still 

13 



14 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

impossible to deny all reference to the grim science called 
geology ; least of all in a county which has given a world- 
name to three notable formations. Moreover, the rocks in 
Dorset are a chronicle open and clear. Not only do Dorset 
folk use in many ways the stones of the time before the 
Flood ; not only do the foundations of the county contain 
the tremendous mystery of man's first appearance ; but the 
cliffs and the hills and the valleys are themselves a chronicle 
of past wonders, now plainly visible. They are as insistent 
as an earthwork or a ruined castle. Here, then, shall be a 
journey through the old time before our oldest fathers. 

The most ancient " rocks " in the county more venerable 
far than man are the cliffs of Charmouth and Lyme 
Regis, and the meadows of Marshwood Vale. The epochs 
that went to create them must have been much longer than 
all time since. Next upon the stairway of the years stand 
the most important of all the county's strata. From 
Portland comes the stone that creates the soft shadows of 
St. Paul's Cathedral ; from Purbeck the grey columns of 
Westminster Abbey, and the splendour of the west front 
of Wells Cathedral. 

But mankind was not extant when those rocks took shape. 
There were thrown up next the glorious chalk hills. On 
the chalk the shepherd is able to exercise the first and oldest 
art of subjugation. In the high downs higher, nobler 
in Dorset than in the more-praised dominion of Sussex 
rise the scores of streams that the dairies need ; and upon 
the sweet turf feed myriads of comely sheep ; the true 
horned sheep of Dorset, a valiant and fertile stock with an 
old pedigree, the envy of less happier lands, the ornament 
and treasure of the green slopes. And in those slopes also 
the dominant race of earliest Britain cut its vast and 
enduring citadels. 

But man was still not born in England even " when first 
the hills in order stood." There are clays and sands older 
than he. The white earths of Stoborough Heath, which for 
generations the Five Towns have drawn from Dorset for 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 15 

their craft of pottery, were formed ages before the only 
creature that has learnt how to use a thumb : near here also 
is the best clay for long churchwarden pipes. Lower down 
the Dorset slopes, by the rivers and marshes, is the poor 
kingdom of land that alone is coeval with mankind. There, 
where still the winds and the streams change by little and 
little the infirm water-courses, stretches the new-built 
earth that is man's twin. All else was old and established 
before any human voice was heard in the fantastic world 
of continental England. 

For that is the unimaginable condition of the beginning 
of man's life in Dorset a condition whose results still 
govern that life. The county lay formerly upon no sea : 
it was part of a lost Atlantis. How long and how often it 
was joined to Europe not even the geologists will say with 
certainty. Twice at least it was submerged beneath the 
waters, to rise again with land where now the grey warships 
ride. It was in turn arctic and tropical. Whole generations 
of living things were born : the earth shook and was opened, 
and when the torment was past the living things were rock. 

At some time in that ebb and flow of terror man appeared 
in England : Eolithic man. We do not know if he is our 
direct ancestor : there is in England no link found between 
him and the later, yet incalculably old, generations of 
Palaeolithic and Neolithic man. We only know that he had 
to strive against a power we cannot so much as describe : 
the full might and fury of Nature herself. To Nature fell 
the victory. Never again in England did she prevail so 
completely. 

Dorset seems to hold a record of that first defeat. Upon 
the Ordnance Survey's gay and pretty geological map, in 
the very heart of the county, there is a bright pink speck in 
the midst of the green stripes that stand for chalk. It is 
unique, and has a name peculiar to itself. It is called 
" Elephant Bed of Dewlish " : perhaps the finest achieve- 
ment of any science in the way of mixed homeliness and 
romance. 



16 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

All that is left of the elephants who slept in that bed 
their last sleep is in Dorchester and Salisbury Museums. 
The immense curving tusks are over six feet long. They 
are imperfect : in life they must have measured more than 
eight feet. The molars are like great lumps of rock. They 
belonged to the elephant known as Elephas meridionalis, 
the Elephant of the South : by whose presence in our island 
we know that England must then have had a warm climate. 
He vanished from the face of the earth in the Pliocene Age. 

Close by the remains of these monstrous creatures were 
found some little chipped flints. They have been thought 
to be the possessions of Eolithic man. With those feeble 
weapons he must fight for life against such beasts, with those 
poor tools he must conquer the hard earth : and but for 
them we might not know even that he had ever existed in 
this part of England.* 

He vanished, too, like the Elephant of the South. Before 
Palaeolithic man appeared, there was another vast trans- 
formation of the earth's face, and England was islanded for 
a time. Then once more man, Palaeolithic man, appears ; 
in Dorset he has been traced on the Devon border and at 
Wimborne. Then again came the cold, and the land rose 
up from the waters, until, by stages not to be numbered 
certainly, the last great breach with Europe occurred. Man 
in England had viewed the promised land, but he might not 
possess it might not leave upon it the marks which after- 
wards Neolithic man made ineffaceably in Dorset until 
the triumphant sea had torn the cliffs of Purbeck and Port- 
land into walls against itself. 

I think the lowest of the many computations I have seen 
of the duration or evolution of the three Stone Ages in 
England is 139,000 years. The Neolithic Age ended for 
us about 2000 years before Christ ; hardly 4000 years ago. 
If in 135,000 years from now England grew too cold for 

* We do not really know, so far as Dorset is concerned. The flints 
are now said not to have been worked by man. But the Elephant is 
authentic, and, like the mocking-bird in Mrs. Trimmer's Robins, had 
better remain here " for the sake of the moral." 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 17 

human life, how much of our civilization would be left for 
those who at length came back, as perhaps Neolithic man 
came back, from the warmer zones of the south ? I know 
that it is a vain speculation ; and the years of geologic 
time are beyond the mind's comprehension. Yet it is some 
such indescribable and terrifying immensity as this that the 
Dewlish flints and Purbeck and Portland stones imply : 
an immensity containing even the reversal or the dethroning 
of all that we mean by man's dominion alike over organic 
and inorganic nature. 

Once, from near Dewlish itself, I looked up to the hills 
and saw as it were a travesty of that antique strife. There 
was an empty lane climbing the hill between hedges, and 
the day shone with the hard brightness of spring before the 
buds have opened. I had grown tired of roads, and looked 
to the top of the ridge with hope. Suddenly there appeared 
over the clean line of road the head of a mounted man, 
with a black cap ; and then a red coat and then the 
multitudinous waving sterns of hounds ; and after that 
more red coats and fine horses, ambling easily, first one, 
then another, and pairs, and at last a host, every one coming 
into sight like the units of an army terrible as an army 
with banners, for had they not killed the fox ? It was a 
gay sight, a triumphant simplicity, this famous Cattistock 
Hunt ; and yet it seemed also a parody of that remoter, 
huger war that had once taken place in those very hills, 
when all the odds were not upon the hunter. What if the 
fox, in a million years, had conquered Nature, and made 
man as the elephants of Dewlish ? 

Any man can see in a reasonable walk* most of that 
geological pageant which I have just suggested ; and he 
need not trouble himself much about geology, for the places 
themselves speak in a good comprehensible tongue of their 
own. 

* By " reasonable walk," or indeed by " walk " alone, I mean now and 
hereafter any distance from twelve to thirty miles, according to circum- 
stances. For further details see the Appendix I. In the present case I 
suggest also the goal of an alternative walk. 



18 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Begin at Poole Harbour, where the sands and heather and 
brambles stretch from the western bank into Studland 
Heath and Little Sea. Here, at the outset, the unstable 
foreshore performs, by way of forecast, the still unended 
miracle of earth-building. A bunch of whin near an inlet 
will suddenly hold together a small island of sand : the 
wind comes, and lo ! a grass-topped hill in a yellow desert. 
The waters slowly push the sand higher, scooping their 
own shallow channel a little deeper ; and so, in a few 
centuries of minute toil, there is formed a delicate con- 
tinent of dunes, whose shape and colour change without 
ceasing. 

The waters too have simple proofs here of the unhuman, 
almost inhuman tasks accomplished by Nature alone. 
Poole Harbour, Lytchett Bay, Arne Bay, Wareham Channel 
are now pied with islets of stubborn grass, like molehills on 
a flat meadow. A gull or a heron may make them his throne 
while he rests a few minutes from the search for food, 
thinking highly, doubtless, of the Providence that in the last 
few years has suddenly set up these inns for his sojourning. 
But there is a stranger wonder in the green tufts than the 
mere convenience of birds. The grass comes from America, 
and with it the New World is rebuilding the Old. A few 
seeds of an American grass chanced to come by ship, it is 
said, into Southampton Harbour : and by chance, too, they 
so fell that they took root ; and now all the flats of water in 
that region are filled with the quick-growing sturdy weed, 
and the channels are being narrowed and deepened more 
securely than man could compass. 

It is almost a battlefield, this little strip of coast : sea 
against land, man against both. At its westernmost curve 
the waves are daily triumphant. Here, beneath Handfast 
Point, stands Old Harry. By his side formerly stood also 
his long-faithful consort, Old Harry's Wife, a second un- 
gainly pillar of chalk. But the subtle, indefatigable sea 
plucked at her robes continually, and slid away her founda- 
tions, till suddenly she dissolved into the waters, and was 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 19 

but a heap of diminishing white lumps. Even so will her 
lorn spouse presently perish. 

That cruel deed must have been the revenge of Ocean ; 
for Studland Heath before that had robbed him not less 
cruelly. In the waste of sand and lagoons on the Heath, 
lies the enclosed mere named Little Sea. In Ralph Treswell's 
Tudor map it is an arm of the great sea, upon which swim 
swans and ducks and what appear to be pelicans of a pro- 
digious bigness ; but now the land has imprisoned it, and 
there are no pelicans. Men say that in its still depths is 
buried Excalibur, flung there by Sir Bedivere against his 
will ; and indeed the brown marsh is a ghostly place, where 
in the twilight the most knightly soul might forget his 
vows. 

There is power in this strange and lovely place : a power 
not only of beauty beyond description, not only of legend, 
but of some spiritual force as well. It may be only some 
trick of light and colour, such as sometimes you get in the 
Welsh hills or on Romney Marsh. There is contrast enough 
here for any illusion of the sight : the white cliff of Vectis 
standing stiffly out at sea, the gold and silver of the sand, the 
blue and white and grey water, the profound dykes, the 
heather and pines all these are played upon by sun and 
wind and cloud without hindrance to the line of sight, 
until not twice running will a view appear the same : and 
in turn the hues play upon the eye of the mind, so that as 
the wraiths of old chivalry pass dimly, and faint echoes 
ring in the brain from the forlorn passions and hopes of the 
knightly years, the whole world and he who regards it from 
Studland Heath are subdued into a sombre union, an 
ecstasy of loneliness. 

Another legend and another fragment of earth-history 
lie close at hand. Westward of Little Sea the shaggy heath 
begins to grow upon clay, coeval with man, and not now 
shifting and unstable like the sand. In the midst of its 
wildness are set two great alien stones, the Agglestone and 
the Puckstone. Legend says that the Devil, having taken 



20 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

a hatred of Corfe Castle, threw these stones at it (from his 
natural home in some Isle of Wight watering-place), and they 
fell short. The stories told by scientists are less interesting 
and not much more plausible. But by any account the 
Agglestone and the Puckstone are older than their resting- 
place, and older than man. 

From the Heath one comes into the geologically older 
world of Purbeck. But at this point, he who walks comes 
upon a serious obstacle. He climbs up to Ballard Down, 
and sees at his foot a rather large and offensive town, 
stretching up every valley, full of grievous things : houses 
built to appear important to unimportant persons ; sham 
half-timber, eruptive and incongruous glass of many 
colours, ironwork and paint of the Public Baths and 
Washhouses Period, cornices that bear no weight, be- 
dizened doors, gables in number like the tents of an 
army. 

Not that Swanage is wholly vile, however. The old pond, 
and a few grey and white houses of a grave and stubborn 
homeliness, and the new church, and the harbour, and 
its seemly Georgian hotel these have reticence and 
character. 

It is with mixed feelings that after crossing the town one 
looks back at the unseemly parodies of architecture which 
climb Durlstone Head. They are, after all, man's victories 
over Nature in a land where victory has not been easily 
won. As you pass them, you will see many invitations to 
the Caves of Tilly Whim. Defy the warning of experience 
of watering-places : go to these alleged caves. They are 
not caves :* they too are a battleground. They are disused 
quarries, worked by the Company of Marblers of Purbeck 
(a vigorous trade gild or union) many years ago, before they 

* Nor is Tilly Whim, strictly, their name. They are Tilly's Whim 
Quarries. Tilly was one of the first to use a crane, or whim, some two 
hundred years ago : an effort of progress which doubtless Dorset under 
the Georges regarded placidly as the summit of mechanical skill. But the 
quarries here have not been worked now for a century past. (See A Royal 
Warren, by C. E. Robinson. Privately printed.) 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 21 

migrated to other galleries. In the silent workings are all 
the secrets and all the spirit of an immemorial craft. Men 
have riven and split the stone in the same way, with the same 
tools, perhaps since imperial Rome set up marble where 
before were only the wattle huts of the Celts. There is 
something indescribably hard and penetrating, yet venerable 
also, in the grey unchanging masses : they have almost a 
life they could speak with the voice of old Time himself, 
and tell of all the humble hopes, the anger, the joyful 
strength, the caprices, from which they suffered blows : 
of all the nameless men now more still than the very dust 
of the quarry. 

Yet even the stones are not wholly dumb. Here have 
been found many still undefaced records from the dimmest 
antiquity fishes of strange shapes, and vast turtles, fit 
dwellers in such a place and such an epoch as formed 
Purbeck marble : and one trace of life more romantic, 
even, than the elephants of Dewlish. It is the footmark 
of an iguanodon ; one print only, a shamrock-like impress 
of a huge lizard's foot, twelve inches or so across, left when 
the rock that now is so painfully carved was but soft mud. 
It is like the footprint upon Crusoe's island, solitary, un- 
related, full of terror : but it is from no mere sea that it 
comes ; it is stamped high and dry above the tide-mark of 
time itself. 

On the lonely hills towards St. Aldhelm's Head, there is 
a desolation no less suggestive of the beginnings of the earth, 
though it is in reality a man-made solitude. The coarse 
grass is strewn with great shaped boulders, like the ruins of 
a giant's palace. There are strange holes in the turf, de- 
cayed walls, little deserted stone shelters where once the 
smaller blocks were shaped and stacked ; brambles and 
nettles are everywhere, and no smooth surface anywhere. 
It might be the workshop or rubbish heap of a world- 
builder. It is but a deserted quarry, left haphazard as though 
the marblers had fled in some sudden fear. It is strangely 
full of the atmosphere of awe, like the grisly " chapel " where 



22 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

once Sir Gawain must abide the three strokes of the Green 
Knight : 

" Wild it seemed to him ; 
He saw no sign of resting in that place, 
But high steep rocks on either side the dale, 
Rough knuckled boulders, rugged stones and rocks, 
With shadows full of terror . . . 
* I wis', quoth Gawain, ' wilderness is here : 
This is an ugly grass-grown place of prayer, 
Where well that Knight in green might pay his vows, 
And do his reverence in the devil's way.' " 

At last, after a league of desolation, comes St. Aldhelm's 
Head St. Alban's or St. Aldhelm's, as the Ordnance map 
observes punctiliously ; but St. Alban had no commerce 
with Wessex. The promontory of the great Saxon bishop 
Aldhelm is as it were the pivot or apex of the Isle of Purbeck. 
It is an impregnable salient thrust into the sea. Near its 
summit the two hard rocks, Purbeck marble and Portland 
stone, are broken off ; except for a little strip near Wor- 
barrow Bay, they are not seen again on the coast until 
Portland itself rises up at the western end of the wide 
curve of the cliffs. 

The Headland, perhaps, does not fasten itself upon the 
imagination as do certain other seaboard places of Dorset : 
at any rate in calm weather. But in the wind and the rain, 
when the south-westerly tempest blows clear across the 
Atlantic into the narrow groove of the Channel, it is glorious. 
The rock seems to join the sea in the war against their 
common conqueror. How many tall ships, through the 
ages, have been blown safely past the Start, past the terrible 
race of Portland, almost into the peace of Christchurch 
Bay, to be broken to splinters upon Dancing Ledge or 
Anvil Point ?* Out of the innumerable company of their 
dead would rise the armadas of nations long vanished, of 
empires from whose numb hands sea power departed 
countless generations ago. Every race and every tongue 

* One almost as I wrote these words. 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 23 

of Europe would be found there, in ships of strange rig, 
the little brave creeping ships of the old world. 

The low, strong Norman chapel on the headland is by 
tradition a record of one such disaster. A father, in 1140, 
it is said, saw his son drowned in a gale before his eyes, and 
set up this little four-square house of prayer to be at once 
a beacon-holder and a chantry for the souls of sailors. 

There is a change in the pageant of the rocks at the 
Headland itself. The hard stone ceases and gives place 
to what seems a more kindly land. Below the cliff is a round 
blue pool and a gorse-embroidered valley ; beyond, yet 
another valley, full of trees, and then hill after hill cut short 
by the sea, until, far away, the cliffs end in a dying fall at 
the sunset. Instead of the bleak quarries, there comes, 
after a patch of shale, a great stretch of chalk downs. 

If you are walking westwards from here, you can choose 
either of two routes ; close to the coast, through Kimmeridge, 
or along the inner chalk ridge, over Creech Barrow. By 
the Kimmeridge route Encombe Glen (below the House) 
must be avoided ; ill-behaved trippers have caused it to 
be closed to the public. But the coast can be reached 
again near Smedmore, east of Kimmeridge. 

The geologist takes great delight in Kimmeridge. The 
shale ledges are older even than the Purbeck and Portland 
stones ; and the wrinkled sea that slides over their grey, 
oily layers hides dreadful things that the earth has done 
geological faults, lapses from regularity, highly original 
sins which make science a ghoulish joy. Are they not 
recorded and pictured in the Museum of Jermyn Street ? 

Man converted the Purbeck and Portland rocks to his use 
by sheer force. Kimmeridge shale is too subtle for force. 
This black little piece of coast, grimy, slippery, unfriendly, 
is a record of curious futilities undertaken in many 
generations. The earliest identifiable men, those of the 
Stone Age, have left their tokens here. They worked the 
shale and made ornaments of it ; and made also other 
things the meaning of which is even now not certainly 



24 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

known. Kimmeridge " coal-money " consists of round 
discs with symmetrical piercings. Legend says they are 
coins. They have been found in circumstances that prove 
them to be at least pre-Roman. Some cold-blooded 
persons of to-day assert that they are merely the end-cores 
thrown aside from the lathe, which was beyond doubt used 
by Celt and Roman for making their beautiful vases and 
other wares of shale. But against this is the strange fact 
that in many places the " money " has been found care- 
fully stored in cinerary urns. Here is a riddle set by a 
vanished sphinx. The tokens are almost like what Mr. 
Edmund Gosse's father imagined fossils to be devices 
contrived by the Creator, with immemorial prescience, to 
tempt later scientists into impious speculation. 

That industry, whatever its meaning, was succeeded, two 
thousand years or so later, by a less reputable trade. The 
Abbey of Cerne possessed this coast, and with it the right 
to benefit from wreckage ; a right which is said to have been 
extended, at any rate once, under Henry VII, to the pro- 
vision of material for its exercise. And then, in a less 
fierce age, came the Clavells of Smedmore, of the lineage of 
Walter de Clavile, an authentic comrade of the Conqueror. 
Greatest of the family, perhaps, was that Tudor Sir William 
who is buried in Kimmeridge Church : 

" Within this marble casket lies 
He who was learned, stout, and wise, 
Who would for no expense conceal 
His projects for the common weal, 
And when disloyal Irish did 
Rebel against the Queen their head, 
Approved valour then did get 
Him the reward of Banneret." 

The deeds and customs of the Elizabethan squires of 
Dorset are matters for a later chapter. Here my interest 
is only in man's general conquest of the earth's fabric. 
Sir William believed that it would be " for the common 
weal," to say nothing of his own profit, to work the alum 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 25 

in the shale. This industry, " by much cost and travail, he 
brought to a reasonable perfection." But a monopoly of 
alum had been granted to other men, who seized his works. 
Thereupon, being one " whom one disaster dismayeth not " 
and he met many disasters of a financial kind he set 
up a glass-house and a salt-house, and made " at his own 
charge, with great rocks and stones piled together, a little 
quay." A fragment of the little quay long after jutted 
forlornly towards the sea, with never a boat or a mariner 
to wake the echoes of its stones. Once it was populous with 
wild and terrible figures : for Clavell's workmen, by reason 
of " the offensive savour and extraordinary blackness " of 
the shale they burnt in their furnaces, appeared " more like 
furies than men." 

The toil and hopes of Clavell died with him, and nearly 
two hundred years later even his quay came almost to 
nothing ; for the sea beat upon the stones and wrecked the 
pier, so that it could no longer be used even for chance 
traffic. All the industry that was left to Kimmeridge in 
the eighteenth century was the working of the shale as a 
kind of coal, which was sold at six shillings a ton. It burnt 
hotly ; and it also, in the words of science, " liberated 
sulphuretted hydrogen," so that here too Nature had her 
revenge. . . . 

Yet her enemy was indefatigable. In the nineteenth 
century certain Gauls devised a new assault. They built a 
little railway, and a fresh quay, and set to work to distil 
oil, gas, and ammonia from the shale. They failed : they 
could not purify the stubborn substance sufficiently. 
Twice or thrice was this effort made, and it is said that now 
once more men are to attempt it. But all that the way- 
farer on the coast to-day can see is the dismal skeleton of 
enterprises long ago disappointed and abandoned, a little 
broken fortress of man's hopes, and the sly, slow triumph 
of the eternal earth and eea. 

From Kimmeridge one comes to Tyneham and Wor- 
b arrow, and joins the alternative westward route, which 



26 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

from St. Aldhelm's Head runs to Kingston. At Kingston 
the two churches are landmarks : the older one of poor 
Georgian Gothic, the newer one a masterpiece of the 
Municipal Style. From this village the way lies due west, 
through Lord Eldon's park. Take the middle path. West 
of the park, go across country northwards to Church 
Knowle. Turn west again, and a little way past a very 
humble inn you will see a path (unmapped) on the right 
hand ; which brings you to a silver road winding uphill. 
When you have reached the top of the ridge, Creech Barrow 
stands up like a mountain. 

To reach the summit you must go round a long smooth 
valley. It is well to refrain from looking at the view until 
the highest point is attained, for it is then the most perfect 
of surprises to look suddenly north and east and south and 
west ; but even if you have forfeited that surprise by looking 
about you as you climbed, you can still look long and 
behold always new beauty. Once there was a hunting 
lodge of the Angevin kings here ; a few stones are left. 
Upon Ralph Treswell's map it is shown as it w r ere a spacious 
temple ; and indeed a man might search his soul in solitude 
upon Creech Barrow, and fall a-worshipping the power that 
spread the world out beneath his feet ; for it is no less than 
a mirror of the world that stretches every way to the limit 
of sight the world that has waited for mankind. 

It is to the north and east that old Time is made visible. 
Here lies a shrunken atomy of the last great earth- 
cataclysm in the history of England. Far below the green 
and golden slopes of the hill is a brown wilderness through 
which, with innumerable tributary streams and isolated 
pools, run two broad rivers, gleaming strangely in their cold, 
bright windings. The flats are sombre and still, but the 
waters, issuing at last together into the Channel, have a 
quiet power and vitality as of never-ending life. 

When those rivers ran in their fullest pride, Dorset was 
not Dorset, nor England England. Look to the north-west. 
A long ridge of hill, tree-topped, is the horizon, fifteen 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 27 

miles off. Half-way up the slope, concealed in the blue 
pale distance, is Dewlish. When man faced the elephant 
there, the Frome and the Piddle were not silver threads, 
but a broad flood running into that yet more tremendous 
stream which is now the English Channel. The Stour, 
Hampshire Avon, and the Solent were tributaries of that 
same enormous river : and the rivulets that run north- 
wards from the ridge, hurried more turbidly past Avalon 
to a huger Severn. All this land was a causeway of waters 
roaring to an unimaginable torrent. The shining cliffs of 
the Isle of Wight stand up like their gateway. 

River and heath and sea are still marshalled by the great 
gesture which swept Dorset into its present shape. The 
older hills, the chalk and the shale and the limestones, were 
an amphitheatre for the battle between land and water ; the 
lowlands seem to be but the shrivelled ramparts and trenches 
of the conflict itself. When it ended, England was kindly 
once more. Poole Harbour dwindled into a quiet estuary ; 
the floods towards Somerset were slowly diminished into 
marsh-land, and so, at last, within the memory of mankind, 
into meadows ; the green things that we know familiarly 
grew upon the earth ; and our veritable father, man 
from whom we trace unbroken descent, was found in 
Dorset. 

Behold also from Creech Barrow a picture of his kingdom 
thenceforward to now. Twenty miles away, upon a high 
hill which yet, in a clear atmosphere, is not the horizon by 
another twenty miles, is a straight pillar ; it commemorates 
Nelson's Hardy. Beyond is fold upon fold, the strong 
kingdom of the fort-building Durotriges, men of power two 
thousand years ago. Beyond again, on a clear day, Devon 
can be seen. A little south lies Portland, resting upon the 
sea like the happy realm of the Phaeacians, a shield prone ; 
or more truly, a stone cold and brutish, justly set apart 
in the inhospitable ocean. 

Follow with your eye the path the sun would tread if he 
obeyed the Wimborne clock. Lewsdon and Pilsdon, the 



28 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

one hairy, the other smooth, like Esau and Jacob, stand up 
in the north-west, thirty miles distant, and more. East 
of them a clump of trees crowns a ridge ; it is High Stoy, 
of which Hardy has written that if it had met with an 
insistent chronicler, it " might have been numbered among 
the scenic celebrities of the century." Where the middle- 
north ridge ends, more hills jut out, one behind the other. 
The round ball far off is Melbury Down, that looks upon and 
is seen magically from the hill-town of Shaftesbury. Walk- 
ing four miles an hour, you could reach it in seven hours. 
To the right is yet another clump of trees on a hill : a holy 
place, a grove as high in the story of England as in the county 
of Dorset : Badbury Rings, where, maybe, Arthur fell. 

And so to newer things again : Charborough Tower, 
where Lady Constantine, of Two on a Tower, was en- 
chanted by her young astronomer : and that other tower 
of Christchurch on the western horizon, whispering faintly 
the enchantments that populous trim Bournemouth, near 
at hand, can neither recover nor forge. And white and 
silver at your very feet gleam the potter's clay-fields, with 
their toy railways and their pools of indescribable blue and 
green. No authentic sound comes up to the height from 
them, and the trains that glide evenly to Corfe and Wareham 
move but with a faint ghostly postponed murmur, like an 
echo of some more immense labour long ended. 

All these things, in one way or another, will come again 
into the story now to be written of man's life on the soil of 
Dorset : here is but a pageant or prophecy of them. They 
are visible enough, emblematically, in Purbeck to-day ; 
they stand there for the human victories of aeons. 

It is hard to leave this noble hill. And yet, leaving it, 
be comforted ; for you will see nine-tenths of the same 
glorious vision for three miles to come, as you march west- 
ward upon the windy edge of space. There is something 
in the turf of these chalk downs that quickens life, and 
makes the long cool shadow of the valley villages and trees 
seem a paltry thing, an artifice of comfort and littleness. 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 29 

The dry sweet grass tinkles as with a thousand tiny cymbals ; 
the snail-shells, violet, orange, pink, flaming white, are 
jewels from Aladdin's cave, the scabious and the daisy 
coloured stars in a green heaven. Every step, like Antaeus 
his overthrows, gives back some of the earth's own vitality, 
and one seems to be marching upon a road glistening still 
with the dews of dawn, made firm with the pride of midday, 
and ending in the golden sunset gates of a kingdom where 
youth is for ever lord. 

Yet this very exhilaration has behind it something sober 
and earthy and human, something that dignifies and 
ennobles rest after toil. There is no ale, no cider, no cheese 
so good as that in a warm dusky village into which a way- 
farer stumbles from the heights. There is no tolerance so 
large and kindly as that which comes from a little ease in 
such a nest of apparent indolence. Look down upon the 
hamlets in the valley of Corfe river. There is Barneston 
Manor ; its stones stood in the same place, the stones of 
Barneston Manor still, when Edward III was king. There 
is the old cruciform church of Church Knowle. There is 
Steeple, where a Tudor squire rests in a complacent tomb, 
having done his duty quietly and long ; and hard by lies 
buried an artist-poet of once slightly alarming bodlihead. 
There is Tyneham, where the old family that built Bond 
Street still abides. North are other manors, thick copses, 
white -flagged railway trains ; and a delicious " gate " 
leading from nowhere to nowhere, built strongly of lime 
and stone in a German Gothic manner. All these things 
seem natural and eternal, so beneficent is the highway of the 
chalk. They are part of a world in which, to a Radical, 
Conservatism may well appear the creed of Utopia, rather 
than the abhorred dogma of the Primrose League. The 
faith is too good to be changed : so it has always been, so 
it shall always be. Forget the quarries, the waste and horror 
of the antediluvian earth ; forget the obscene shale, the 
wrecker monks, the oil-traders. " Allons ! to that which 
is endless as it was beginningless. . . ." 






30 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

But in a little while you will find the end comes. Just 
beyond Tyneham there is a low gap in the sea-wall, and a 
grey knob of cliff protrudes into the sea. Its westernmost 
end rises up into a great hill, upon which the coast path from 
Kimmeridge and the track from Creech Barrow meet. It 
is Ring's Hill, of which the highest part is adorably named 
Flowersbarrow (" Flowersbarrow "... Are we a prosaic 
nation ? Once it may have been called Florus' Byrig). 

It is a strange and tremendous hill. On the very top of 
it is the last thing you would expect to find in a place so 
remote and so inaccessible ; a huge earthwork, five hundred 
and sixty-seven feet above a sea which needs no bulwark. It 
guards the very end of the Isle of Purbeck. A chalk ram- 
part shuts off all the stone and marble formations of the 
Isle from the younger clays of the Frome Valley ; the Isle 
really is an island, a geological fastness, whatever the 
geographers, with their talk of water surrounding land, 
may say to the contrary. And Flowersbarrow gives a 
most extraordinary vision of that curious self -containment 
of Purbeck. Just as from Creech Barrow could be seen the 
primal path of the inner waters, so here can be seen, abrupt 
and clean, the terrible achievement of the main Channel 
stream. Purbeck is cut short, broken off sharp, at Arish 
Mell Gap : the old world ends visibly. The sea will not here 
give up the dead land. 

Go through the camp, climb the three deep western 
trenches, and begin to descend the slope. Right in front 
stands up what appears, from here, to be a sheer green wall. 
In reality, Bindon Hill is not sheer, but simply very steep 
indeed. Its white edge is a straight line from the top to the 
sea five hundred and fifty feet below. Between it and 
Flowersbarrow is a smaller hill, perfectly rounded, like an 
inverted bowl girt with a fairy ring. There is a little sheltered 
gap at the western curve of this ring ; and from that gap 
you look straight across to Portland, the brother land of 
Purbeck, now for ever separated from it. There is nothing 
between save water and a few grim rocks : Purbeck ends 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 31 

in a grey blank wall : Portland stands upright eleven 
miles away : the quiet, insuperable waves hold them 
apart. 

The tiny valley of Arish Mell (an old Celtic name) is a 
place of warm peace, where kine drift down from the meadows 
to the seashore itself. Their friendly brown coats are not 
the brightest colour here. The face of the coast, from 
Worbarrow Point to Mupe's Rocks, is like a many-hued 
puzzle, a geological jigsaw. The shingle is yellow and blue- 
grey : the down turf wears its eternal green : Bindon, its 
flank dark with pines, has a face of gleaming silver : but 
Ring's Hill contains every shade from scarlet to purple, 
while the little headland of Worbarrow is striped with 
contorted formations, of grey and drab and black. Mupe's 
dark rocks are of a threatening brown, with the white snow 
of waves at their base. I do not know whom this desolate 
and lovely place may most fully satisfy ; the geologist, 
the artist, the historian, the mere walker may all take 
delight in it : It satisfies always and fully. There is no 
emotion with which it is not in sympathy, no happiness 
which it does not glorify by its kindly peace and its austere 
beauty. 

And so, over the great hill of Bindon along this cliff-edge 
to West Lulworth, where lobsters die in readiness and 
numbers for the wayfarer. 

There is one other place in Dorset where the Earth's own 
past obtrudes itself, in a great view, upon one's thoughts 
about man's past and present. That is the summit of the 
highest cliff between the Wash and Land's End, Golden 
Cap. That glorious hill is known and loved by all Dorset 
men. It stands up with a peculiar boldness : a piled-up 
sloping mass, and then a bare stretch of yellow earth, 
crowned with a dark brown plateau. It can be seen from 
many a Dorset height ; from Blackdown, from Pilsdon, 
from Hooke, even from great Bulbarrow himself, thirty 
miles away : always it is the same a straight flat line 



32 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

cutting the sky proudly, and a golden edge sloping steeply 
down. 

The ascent of Golden Cap is a noble walk from Bridporfc 
or from Lyme, or in the journey from one to the other : 
though if you go the whole way nine miles or so you have 
to climb Charmouth Hill (500 feet), Stonebarrow Hill 
(500 feet), Golden Cap (619 feet), and Thorncombe Beacon 
(500 feet) and descend to sea-level between each. More- 
over, the last hundred feet up the Cap, whichever way you 
choose, is the worst stretch. It grows steepest there, and in 
summer the face of it is so slippery with desiccated grass, or 
so prickly with gorse, that the lost agility of Eolith ic man 
would be a boon to-day. Beware also of rabbit snares- 
wire nooses strongly pegged into the ground. If you come 
from the east shun the lower undercliff, which looks less 
arduous as first ; here be quags and (in due season) serpents, 
as well as primroses and blackthorn and violets and black- 
berries. 

When at last you come to the top, go across the plateau 
towards the south-west. Cast yourself down at the edge 
and dream. There are no history-lessons here : only a 
stillness, a poising of the soul, as of the body, over depths 
that bring the uttermost wonder of tranquillity. If you can 
bear it, look down : 

" The crows and choughs that wing the midway air 
Show scarce so gross as beetles . . . 

The murmuring surge, 

That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes, 
Cannot be heard so high." 

Or if it can be heard, on this cliff by comparison with which 
Shakespeare's would be a paltry ledge, the sound is but the 
caress of a kindly mother visiting your sleep ; a wistful 
charity in which any man might find peace. What is man 
in that superb isolation ? 

It is always of long-established peace, to me, that Golden 
Cap whispers. So high, so far, so lonely, you cannot be 







gl 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 33 

in the world. Why, the very gulls and daws that are 
floating below you are yet five hundred feet above land. 
The sea itself could not rage here : the huge arc of cliffs 
holds out arms to calm it. Portland is not rock now : it 
is but a grey shadow. West Bay piers look the toys that in 
truth they are. And inland there is only a glowing ember 
of the earth's old fires : one of those flushing forests of the 
fire that hold shepherds and sheep and trees and all pastoral 
delights. The smooth roundness of Langdon Hill is red 
with heather and warm with golden gorse : the dark firs 
are unburnt coal : and there are (or once there were) 
shining flecks of cold ash white rabbits at large upon the 
green and purple : and dead gorse standing for calcined 
coal. Far off there brood two great beasts, the slow ruminant 
backs of the Cow and her Calf, as sailors used to name 
the shapes of Pilsdon and Lewsdon Hills. 

But if you go westwards a little you come back to geology, 
and in its most romantic form. On Golden Cap you have 
for a moment been on chalk. Then a little way down you 
are on the Middle Lias, and then on the Lower Lias. You 
are in the land of dragons. And the cliffs and the shore 
are full of dead bodies : fossils of all kinds. 

These cliffs between Lyme and Golden Cap are unique 
in the whole world, for here took place a meeting that can 
never be repeated, a recognition the most uncanny in the 
history of the earth. In 1811 a child of twelve, daughter of 
a carpenter and curiosity-monger of Lyme Regis, caught 
sight of some strange bones in the blue cliff. Having some 
knowledge of fossils already, Mary Anning caused these 
bones to be dug out carefully. She was the first known 
human being, since the very beginning of time, to look upon 
a fish-lizard, or ichthyosaurus. No man has ever seen one 
alive : she first saw one dead. A few years later she also 
first beheld a plesiosaur, and in 1828, a flying dragon, or 
pterodactyl. Fossils of little creeping things, sponges, 
waving plants, worm-like curly insects, or humble organisms 
whose dust is now stone these man had discovered already * 
D 



34 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

and was beginning to name. But the monstrous beasts of 
these cliffs were something more, something new the 
creatures of a past not merely remote, but wholly alien 
and terrible. Some perhaps were fierce, as menacing to 
man, perhaps had they survived to meet him as the 
sabre-toothed tiger or the mammoth. Most of them were 
probably 'of a mild nature and un warlike equipment, ill- 
fitted for conflict with that puny destroyer. But none 
survived. The ground quaked : mountains and seas of 
which no chart can ever be made were confounded : and 
the earth destroyed her hugest children. 

That is the grim vision hidden beneath the primroses on 
the banks of the little streams below Golden Cap : a vision 
of a horror more tremendous than the most terrific earth- 
quake or eruption of our calm day of a fantastic breed of 
beasts upon a strange earth, and then, in the twinkling of 
an eye, obliteration : for in this, as in most other geologic 
changes, death seems to have been abrupt, as of a Roman 
soldier at Pompeii. 

One generation telleth another : but there is no story 
like that told by the dragons to Mary Anning, for it is the 
story of all the generations. Look down, when you go over 
the last hill past Charmouth, upon little Lyme dreaming 
upon the sea, with its sturdy quiet Cobb and its dignity 
and decency. It is two and a half centuries since Lyme was 
in the full stream of history, save for a few hours when the 
survivors of the Formidable struggled ashore there. For 
twelve centuries and more before Monmouth's landing, 
strife went to and fro with hardly a break in Lyme, as else- 
where in Dorset. For three hundred years before that, 
again, there was the Roman peace, that first began for 
England in the generation of Christ's death. Before Christ 
there were ages of bronze and stone, while the Iberian 
and the Celt hammered out their civilization as slowly as 
one of them might hammer a flint axe. Yet when they strove 
man was old in England : in his Old Stone Age he had 
dwelt with and outlived the woolly rhinoceros, the grizzly, 



BEFORE THE FLOOD 35 

the mammoth. And yet again behind his dim shadow is 
a still dimmer figure the lonely, tremendous figure of 
Eolithic man standing against what seemed a hopeless 
dawn. 

The cliffs of Charmouth have seen all that strange 
pageant. They saw the dragons, too, and their catastrophe. 
In such a secular chronicle, man's history is but a short 
page : but in the shops of Lyme the dragons are merchandise. 



Ill 

" And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the 
earth . . . that the Lord said, * My spirit shall not always strive 
with man, for that he also is flesh.' " 

The Book of Genesis. 

" But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals 
with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. 
Who can but pity the founder of the pyramids ? Herostratus lives 
that burnt the temple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it ; Time 
hath spared the epitaph of Adrian's horse, confounded that of himself. 
In vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good 
names, since bad have equal durations ; and Thersites is likely to 
live as long as Agamemnon. Who knows whether the best of men be 
known, or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, 
than any that stand remembered in the known account of Time ? " 

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 

Hydriotaphia. 



^ 

. 

U) 



III 



THE HILLS OF THE DEAD 




THE story of the rocks does not end with the death 
of the dragons ; but when those monsters have 
vanished, and Eolithic man also has fallen back into 
the darkness out of which he rose so mysteriously, the story- 
teller has a new standpoint. He has to show what man 
made of the earth, and of himself, rather than what the earth 
inflicted on man. Man's life and progress are continuous 
henceforth. 

It is at Dorchester, perhaps, more definitely than at any 
other place in England, that this continuity is visible. It 
is a town which has been a town ever since towns first were 
in England. Here every race that has lived in Britain has 
lived ; and when you stand near where now the two rail- 
ways join one another, you are standing upon a spot than 
which no place in this island has been for a longer time 
continuously inhabited. 

39 



40 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

It is beyond doubt, it seems, that either Maiden Castle 
(the Celtic Mai Dun, the High Fort) or Dorchester itself 
is the Dunium spoken of in Trajan's day by Ptolemy the 
geographer. Dorchester is a palimpsest. Its walls are 
Roman : in them the Roman bricks still inhere. It is full 
of Roman pavements. Maumbury Rings, the amphi- 
theatre, is in its present form Roman. But recent excava- 
tions have shown that its circle was first cut in the Neolithic 
Age, and that even before that, in the dimmest antiquity, 
it held a deep Palaeolithic shaft.* 

Close to the present cemetery is a crowded Roman 
burial ground. And Poundbury Camp " round Pummery " 
is said to be Danish : on little evidence, for Celtic and 
Roman remains have been found in its now rather confused 
lines : but the Danes once wintered there during a prolonged 
raid. One other race also inhabited Pummery. From 
1914 to 1918 it was filled with German prisoners of war. 
It was curious to come across the hills of the dead round 
Dorchester, in the utter dark, and see this old fortress of 
the ravaging Danes blazing with search-lights ; curious 
also to me, in the company of an official propagandist 
cinematographer to see sturdy Germans in bizarre patched 
uniforms laughingly loading sacks into waggons, with the 
shopkeepers of the eighteenth -century street looking on, 
and cheerful farm girls in breeches helping them. 

Dorchester was a Saxon town after the Romans went, 
and had a mint under Athelstan. It was sacked by Sweyn. 
It was Norman ; there is a most gentlemanly Norman 
knight sculptured in Fordington church. It was the home 
of men of worship and good lineage in the Middle Ages. 
The Archduke Philip lay at Sir Thomas Trenchard's house, 
just outside the town, in 1506. It aided the Puritan settlers 
of Massachusetts, whose Dorchester, so to speak, is our 
Dorchester. It had the plague as constantly as most 

* It is not creditable to our national knowledge and traditions that only 
the most strenuous exertions at the last moment prevented a railway 
company from cutting clean through this meeting-place of the generations, 
and also from demolishing part of Poundbury Camp. 



THE HILLS OF THE DEAD 41 

towns, heard the drums and tramplings of the Civil War, 
and suffered more terribly than any other place under the 
Bloody Assize. Defoe found it a place of singular dignity 
and charm. It was the scene of a peculiarly horrible exe- 
cution in the eighteenth century. It bore a part in the 
Napoleonic wars. It tried those poor " conspirators " 
who are known (not quite accurately) as the Dorchester 
Labourers, and it housed the judges who in 1831 examined 
the heroes of the last peasants' revolt in England. William 
Barnes walked its streets, and it is the home of Thomas 
Hardy. If you seek continuous history, here, as Mr. 
S queers said, is richness. The town and its doings will 
recur constantly in these chapters. 

I shall deal later with the different stages in that long and 
still unended romance. It begins with man of the Old 
Stone Age. A journey from Dorchester to Abbotsbury and 
the hills round it shows us the lost kingdoms of the Iberian 
and the Celt : a kingdom that still can sway the mind of 
man. 

It is when you set out for Maiden Castle, and begin to 
draw near to that immense stronghold, that the spirit of 
things very far off, very powerful, falls upon you. There is 
no time of year, no condition of light and shade, when the 
vast ramparts do not call up awe and wonder, and even 
pity : for the people who dug those trenches were a great 
race, and their power and their glory are utterly gone. 
But they live in soul. Maiden Castle, a thought made 
visible for ever, has still almost the strong power of a thought 
newly uttered into the world. To this day it dominates and 
hypnotizes. 

I remember a certain winter's day when I walked out 
over the High Fort and was led, it seemed to me, very close 
to the mighty dead. Snow had fallen, a rare thing in South 
Dorset, and when I left the broad street where Rome's 
soldiers once marched, and took the footpath past where 
they lay asleep, the ice and thin crusted snow crackled 
under foot like artillery, so clean was the silence. The air 



42 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

was clear, with the lowering dull glow of storm ; and indeed 
before my journey's end I was to suffer many fierce sudden 
showers. Now and then pale sunshine flickered for 
a moment, but the light nearly all that afternoon 
was sombre. There was little wind at first : the 
atmosphere was wet and bitter, inimical to the blood of 
man. The snow had ceased at midday : there had not been 
enough to cause deep drifts, or cover the hills uniformly 
with white. But all the corrugations were chalk-white, 
and only a few peaks stood out dark where the snow had 
not rested. 

The northern escarpment of Mai Dun, a mile distant, 
rose up like a low strong wall from the smooth-scooped 
valley of Fordington Field. The valley itself was full of 
mist, a faint luminousness exhaled from the ground after 
the storm. It hid everything all round except a tall building 
or a tree. Even so the Weald of Kent, seen from a height 
on a favourable autumn morning, appears a grey sea with 
little clear rocks emerging above it here and there. But 
whereas the churches and trees of Kent recall the kindly 
habitations of articulate-speaking men, Maiden Castle, 
at that magical distance, seemed a very citadel of evil 
wizards. Dark and sharp rose the fortified edges : the 
streaks of white on the slopes marked out the labyrinthine 
dykes with a plainness that was a threat. The fortress had 
a personality, a strength not of this world. Even now, I 
thought, in that grey stillness (for hardly a farm-hand was 
abroad on such a day), strange races, our blood kindred 
but the uttermost antagonists of our minds, might be 
celebrating there their obscene rites, islanded by the mists 
in their cold fortress, and cut off from knowledge of the so 
changed world in which I was. They could live there easily 
enough, and we in the street of to-day none the wiser. 
Their beasts, their households, their prisoners (prisoners 
of this century ? were there really no changelings now, no 
witches, no demoniac possessions ?) all alike would be 
hidden in that vast arena, secure. The well in the midst 



KTHE HILLS OF THE DEAD 43 

haps was frozen : but the slopes, frost-bound, would be 
unassailable, so that no enemy would come, and daring 
men might scurry down the steep southern wall to the stream. 
Only from one quarter, the western spur with its more 
gradual fall, could foes approach the hill from nearly its own 
level ; and there, maybe, the royal dead who lay in Clandon 
Long Barrow would put forth their grim and ghostly might, 
and give protection. 

It is impossible not to feel a sense of awe and even of 
reverence in this amazing stronghold. It may be simple- 
minded to be impressed by mere size. But the huge size 
of Maiden Castle it is the largest and finest Stone Age 
earthwork in the world is a genuine part of its appeal. 
When the first little group of men who worked upon it 
began 5000 or more years before Christ to chip the hard 
chalk with stone axes, they chose this site because it juts 
out like a promontory from the higher ridges into the river 
valley. They had a sure strategic eye. They looked out 
from the height on to fuller rivers, wider and wetter marshes, 
through a damper air. Beasts no longer found in England 
the wolf, the wild cat, the beaver, the aurochs were in 
those marshes. There were forests in many places where 
now the tamed cattle pasture.* Only in Mai Dun was 
safety. 

There is little doubt that the fort was begun by the 
Iberian, perhaps in Late Palaeolithic days. Generation 
after generation must have toiled at it ; thousands of hands 
must have been needed to cut five miles of trenches that for 
a great part of their three circuits of the hill are sixty feet 

* Gen. Pitt-Rivers found a curious example of this on the county border, 
in excavating the Bokerly Dyke (which, however, is not a Stone Age relic, 
but a Roman-British defence against the Saxons). Its western end is 
" in the air," as the soldiers would say. When it was dug, however, it 
rested on the sheltering thickets known as Selwood Forest, now no longer 
existing except in small patches : it filled the gap between the Forest and 
Cranborne Chase. These ancient forests lasted long in some cases. Only 
five hundred years ago, it is said, a squirrel could travel all the five miles 
from Shaftesbury to Grillingham, by his own airy track from tree to tree, 
without ever touching the ground (here I use " forest " in the colloquial 
sense a wooded place not in the technical sense). 



44 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

deep. Very possibly even the eight-fold cross trenches at the 
main entrance were the separate thoughts of successive 
chieftains. We know from the gradual betterment of the 
stone weapons that man was slowly growing into the mastery 
of mechanical things. But we do not know exactly when or 
where some unknown Bessemer forged the bronze that was 
to overcome the stone and give the Celts dominion in 
England. We know that there was trade with distant 
lands : amber from the Baltic has been found in Dorset 
Neolithic graves, and gold (perhaps from Wales) in Clandon 
Barrow hard by Maiden Castle. Man was beginning to 
live in society, therefore, not in small hostile units. We 
know that he could weave flax : linen still adheres to an 
axe-head found near here. But we cannot guess how 
quickly or slowly these changes came, nor how they spread, 
nor what stir they caused in our forefathers' time. We can 
only look at Maiden Castle, and see, in its symbolic green 
walls, the age-long wonder of man. " The number of the 
dead long exceedeth all that shall live." 

From Maiden Castle on to Blackdown there are two 
ways one by road, through Winterborne St. Martin 
(Martinstown), the other along the hills, past countless 
barrows, by a glorious track on soft close down turf. On 
that winter day I chose the road : the other way, however, 
is the better : it is one of the three best walks in Southern 
England. 

Martinstown was utterly frigid and desolate. In summer 
it is very warm, and the little stream that runs along the 
main street is almost dry. That day the stream was truly 
a " winter bourne " : squadrons of ducks struggled with 
its flood. But bare though the wide comely street was, it 
was more human than the utterly lonely road beyond it. 
I seemed to be walking alone out of life into what ? It 
was just as the stillness became most oppressive that I 
came upon a strange answer to the half-unasked question. 
I turned the corner of a high hedge and saw a little black 
wooden shed. In front of it were two figures standing by a 



THE HILLS OF THE DEAD 45 

rough table. They were short dark hairy men, in ragged 
clothes. They had knives in their hands, and they were 
bending over a third figure stretched upon the table : a 
naked pink figure. 

For the moment I was back in the Stone Ages, looking 
on the horror of human sacrifice : a natural thing in that 
kingdom of the dead. But the two peasants were only 
scraping and cleaning a little pig. 

The interminable gritty road seemed emptier than ever 
after that. Heavy clouds were coming up, and the air grew 
darker, as the cold wind increased in violence. I came to 
the last steep stretch up to the summit of the hill, as bare 
and bleak a place as you could find, where the earth itself 
is dark and stony and the green turf has almost ceased : 
only heather and bracken, briars and bilberries, will grow 
there. At the most exposed point the earth was all at once 
blotted out by a grey wall of hail. 

I ran, battered and wet, to what shelter I could get in 
the lee of the great column set up in memory of Admiral 
Hardy. In a few moments the storm was over, and the sun 
shone suddenly at full strength. I looked out over sea and 
cliffs and meadows alight with peaceful happiness. I had 
come back from the dead past into life. 

Life that is what, by some curious inversion of feeling, 
the hills of the dead round Abbotsbury have always meant 
to me. The beauty and loneliness of them are informed 
with some spirit of human continuity, of the splendour and 
endurance of human effort. 

Blackdown, however, is not so full of that spirit as the 
hills westward. It gives a spectacle of sharp contrasts, 
natural beauty, and comparatively recent history. The 
view is magnificent. All Devon down to Start Point can 
be seen on the clearest day : Dartmoor standing on the 
very far horizon. Eastward on a few days I have seen the 
white cliffs of the Isle of Wight, beyond Ringstead Cliff 
and the hump of Swire Head. North, the view is limited 
by the equally high ridge which is the backbone of Dorset, 



46 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 






some ten or twelve miles away. South, Portland Harbour 
and its warships, eight miles off, seem on a clear day to be 
at your feet. 

There is something Italian about this part of the coast. 
Tropical plants grow in the open : azaleas bloom in March : 
there is an infinite stretch of very blue sea with a very white 
thin fringe of foam for miles. The lower foothills stand up 
absurdly like the hills in an early Italian landscape, and the 
few trees are dark like olives against the bright green fields. 

If you look back, you look upon death and desolation. 
They are still there as you walk westwards from the curiously 
impressive monument. But now they are directly parallel 
with country bearing that appearance of bright life which the 
sudden sunshine gave me on this winter walk : and in 
summer the contrast is stronger. On your left still lies the 
brilliant coast and the fertile land behind the Chesil Beach. 
On the right, as you go westwards from Blackdown, is the 
dark Valley of Rocks : a singular avenue of stones (I do not 
know whether they are a natural outcrop or not) which 
curves all along the floor of a noble valley, leaving a green 
path in the midst, up to the top of the hollow. They have 
a look of symmetry, of purposeful arrangement. They lead 
from a very city of tumuli and prehistoric remains, directly 
up through the curve (ceasing, however, at its end), towards 
the stone circle strangely named the Grey Mare and her 
Colts : and further, if you ignore modern plantations and 
fields (which here, in practice, I have found it to be difficult 
and painful to do, not to speak of illegality), to Abbotsbury 
Camp. 

Past the Valley of Stones, you continue, as so often in 
Dorset, on a high ridgeway, with the same enchanting 
view, the same contrasting hills and valleys, on either side. 
You come above Portisham to a vast natural amphitheatre 
one of the largest scoops in a chalk ridge I have ever seen. 
The road then curves down into Abbotsbury. But it is 
better to leave it and continue by an almost disused track 
along the southern edge of the ridge. This brings you within 



THE HILLS OF THE DEAD 47 

sight of (and finally beyond) Abbotsbury village and that 
beautiful Tudor seamark, St. Catherine's Chapel, and leads 
eventually to Abbotsbury Camp. 

The Camp is an irregular triangle, following the contours 
in the main. A road has been cut at one end which may 
possibly have obliterated some of its original line : east 
of this road there are confused trenches and hummocks 
which look as if man might have shaped them. The lines 
of trench are fairly clear still, but their true depth and 
strength are hard to determine. Heather, bracken, and gorse 
have here had unlimited power. There is little turf. The 
rabbit is incredibly plentiful. My Bedlington once spent six 
hours continuously in chase : one down, t'other come on : 
to my great content. I say this without shame : he was 
doing national service. It is wrong that so splendid an 
earthwork should be let decay so heedlessly. The Camp is 
simply a rabbit warren with a covert or two planted just 
below it. The rabbits are mining it to atoms. The neglect 
can serve no useful purpose. There is no production here. 
The two or three slopes which look as if they might once 
have been cultivated have been allowed to revert to wilder- 
ness (one is a blue sheet of wild borage in the summer). 
It is true that a farm a little westward, close to the shore, 
on the lowest slope is called Labour in Vain. But at 
Abbotsbury Camp there can have been no labour, vain or 
fruitful, for long past, except for a little digging of flints. 

Here, by the way, I was once granted the privilege of 
seeing and hearing the cuckoo sing both at rest and in flight. 
I testify that one did so before my eyes, perching in the 
copse north of the Camp and flying south-west over my 
head, all the time garrulous. 

The Camp itself is to me almost the best-loved place in 
Dorset. Here one can lie in a nest of bracken and heather 
and dream all day in utter happiness. Even in winter 
there is a gentleness about the rough worn walls of the fort. 
In summer, when the whole West Bay sleeps in the sunshine, 
the loveliness and peace would bring rest to the most 



48 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

troubled mind. Even if you look inland, instead of at the 
glorious curve of foam from Portland to Devon, the citadels 
of the Iberian and the Celt, the hills covered with trenches, 
tumuli, monoliths, stone and earthen circles, seem less grim. 
You can see from here almost the whole extent of the chief 
domain of the fort-building Durotriges, with whom even 
Vespasian (only a sub-commander then) had to fight many 
pitched battles before victory. But the hills are no longer 
menacing. The battles are over, the old races vanished save 
in our bodies and souls. Bexington and Labour-in- Vain 
farms, the white-walled coastguard station, the tower of 
Abbotsbury Church are what we have reached after the 
centuries of strife and toil. 

Yet are they after all greater and more stable achieve- 
ments than this ruinous citadel that looks down on their 
apparent prosperity ? Anywhere between here and Swyre 
you can trace the outline of fields once rich with crops, now 
conquered again by gorse and bracken : and likewise on 
the steep road down into Abbotsbury. In Abbotsbury 
itself there are a hundred emblems of stranded pride. The 
church has a Saxon carving of the Trinity : where is the 
Saxon Church ? Where is its predecessor, the Celtic 
Church that the priest Bertufus, " in the verie infancie of 
Christianitie among the Britains," built at the bidding of 
St. Peter in a vision ? Where is the monastery that when 
it was surrendered in 1539 was valued at over 400 a year ? 
Some of it is visibly built into the cottages of the village. 
Part is used as a stable. Only the stone coffins of the Abbots 
and the noble Tithe Barn and the carp pond testify to its 
former greatness. Even its customs are obscured. The 
Barn has a chamber over the great door with windows 
looking both inwards and outwards obviously for an 
overseer or clerk to tally the incoming tithes and keep the 
accounts. " That's where the Monks starved themselves," 
I was told. 

Where again to-day are the uses of St. Catherine's Chapel ? 
It is a seamark, true. But who pays for masses for sailors 



THE HILLS OF THE DEAD 49 

in it ? Who in Abbotsbury knows anything now of the saint 
whose face shines so gravely and graciously in a piece of 
old glass in the church ? 

There must have been among the Durotriges eager 
builders, fervent priests, fighting men who violated holy 
places as Abbotsbury Church was violated during the 
Parliamentary wars. There must have been humble 
toilers, happy lovers. Were they relatively (and that means 
absolutely, too) less happy, less prosperous, less comfortable 
than we ? Perhaps some later century will know : perhaps 
there may even be proof in the space between them and us, 
which I am now to traverse. Meanwhile the sunlight and 
the heather and bracken on the Camp can do away with all 
emotions but present happiness. 






IV 



" Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera 
(Cedo equidem), vivos ducent de marmore voltus, 
Orabunt causas melius, coelique meatus 
Describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent : 
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento 
(Haec tibi erunt artes) pacique imponere morem, 
Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos . . . 
Sunt geminae Somni portae. . . ." 

PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MARO, 

Aeneia VI. 

" Your new-caught, sullen peoples, 
Half -devil and half -child." 

RUDYARD KIPLING, 
The White Man's Burden. 



IV 



THE GREEN ROADS 




THE Roman roads in Dorset are curiously eloquent 
of the present as well as of the past. They show, 
because of their comparative unimportance in the 
strategic and commercial aspects, just what was real to 
Rome as to us. The chief Roman city in the county, 
Dorchester, was never of the first importance, nor was the 
great road that ran through it the main highway to the last 
outpost of the Empire in the west. There was, perhaps, 
a certain settlement of Romans in the county : but quota 
portio faecis Achaei ? How many were true Romans, 
how many adventurers of the outer races drawn into the 
Roman army, cannot be known. Apart from the 
idiosyncrasies of the roads, to which I shall return, the 
significant features of the Roman period in Dorset are 
three : the farm settlement in Cranborne Chase excavated 
by that great archaeologist, Gen. Pitt-Rivers : the Bokerly 

53 



54 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Dyke, which is neither pure Roman nor pre-Roman : and 
the Chi-Rho symbol the first two letters of the name of 
Christ, in a monogram in the mosaic floor uncovered at 
Frampton. 

It is perhaps simplest, from an historical point of view, 
to start with the Chi-Rho. That emblem of Christianity 
almost certainly shows that between the death of Christ 
and about A.D. 400 probably between 200 and 400 after 
Christ, when the Roman order had become apparently 
permanent in South Britain -there was a Roman-Christian 
household in Dorset. If only a tiny fraction of the Glaston- 
bury legends is true, that is not in the least incredible. 
The further arguments, however, which deduce a connection 
with the Apostles of Christ from a stone fragment found at 
Fordington, are much more ingenious than convincing. 
But the tradition of the Celtic -Christian Church at Abbots- 
bury seems to be fairly trustworthy. And the stones in 
Wareham Church inscribed with the name of Cattug may 
possibly be connected with a Cattug or Cattogus who was 
concerned in the Pelagian discussions of A.D. 430. It is 
at least a highly likely conjecture, therefore, that the 
exotic religion from Palestine had some foothold in Roman 
Dorset. 

Csesar arrived in 55 B.C. His excursions into the Home 
Counties can hardly have touched Dorset. But echoes 
of the clash with the great civilization of Rome must have 
reached even the far-off Durotrigcs. It must be remembered 
that they were not savages. They may have used woad 
and worn skins : I have seen blue face-powder and furs in 
London to-day. They may have burnt prisoners in wicker 
cages (that is one theory of the origin of the giant at Cerne). 
But they were probably part of the third wave of immigrant 
Celts, and they had come themselves, far back, from the 
Europe with which, if only because of the gold and amber 
which I have mentioned, they were still in habitual contact. 
They used a Greek design for their coins, that of the well- 
known Macedonian stater, of which Dorset examples are 






THE GREEN ROADS 55 

preserved in the County museum. They had certainly 
some sort of ordered civilization of their own, however 
loosely knit. And they had rendered the soil of England 
in some degree hospitable to man's needs they, and the 
Iberian before them. There was thus the result of five 
thousand years of purposeful work, undertaken not by 
eccentric units but by communities, upon which Rome 
could readily impose her greater order and peace. 

Practically nothing is known of the real conquest in A.D. 43. 
It is pretty certain that the Durotriges the real border 
folk of the Celtic race in the south-west just as the Dorsaetas 
later were the march folk of Saxondom must have fought 
stoutly. It may be conjectured, perhaps, that as Claudius' 
army of occupation had the eastern end of Southampton 
Water for its base, Dorset was entered from the south-east 
rather than the north-east (the same problem arises in 
connection with the Saxon invasion). One of the pitched 
battles was in all probability fought on Hod Hill, a wonderful 
eminence above the Stour, where a Roman camp of the 
regulation square type has been cut in a corner of the much 
larger British contour fort. Possibly another encounter 
took place the evidence suggests it on Pilsdon Pen. 
It must have needed all Rome's military efficiency and 
startling rapidity of movement to subdue the sturdy people 
of the green forts. 

Consider now the lines of the proved Roman roads in 
Dorset.* They enter the county from east-central England. 
The main trunk road, which probably determines all the 
rest, was that which ran from Sarum (Salisbury, as near as 
no matter) through Badbury Rings to Dorchester, possibly 
Bridport, and Exeter. The direction of the vicinal roads 
branching from it may be significant. 

It is not known when, nor exactly why, this main road 
was built. There are no records of strife or important 
events in the West after the first conquest, even when, with 
a first-rate British heretic in Pelagius, and an emperor of 

* See Codringtoii's Roman Roads in Britain (3rd Ed., 1918 : S.P.C.K.) 



56 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 



an enterprising and unusual type the first British admiral 
in Carausius, and the death of a Roman Emperor, Con- 
stantius, at York, England seemed to be well in the main 
current of European history. The road was in all prob- 
ability at once a precaution against risings, a direct route 
to the Celtic frontier west of Exeter, and a commercial 
necessity. The striking thing about it is that it follows the 
line of a string of Celtic or British forts. 

From Old Sarum (Celtic) it swings, after some miles in 
a south-westerly direction, south-west of south at the county 
border. It passes close by a cluster of Celtic and Iberian 
tumuli on Handley Down, where there is a Roman British 
farm and villa, just under the upstanding Celtic earthwork 
of Pentridge (whence a very noble view of the road, and the 
Bokerly Dyke, and Cranborne Chase, and Grim's Dyke, and 
half Wiltshire, can be gained). It goes straight to Badbury 
Rings, one of the most beautiful as well as most famous of 
Celtic works. It swings again westwards to the Celtic 
Crawford Castle (Spettisbury Rings). It keeps along the 
ridge to the British village above Bere Regis. It passes 
close under the earthworks and tumuli of Rainbarrow. 
It goes direct to within half a mile of the greatest of all 
forts, Dunium, and the Palaeolithic work at Maumbury 
Rings. It runs then in an almost straight line westwards 
to the splendid fort of Eggardon. And then 

Well, then, according to the archaeologists, it becomes 
non-Celtic. It drops to Bridport, and is no longer a ridge- 
way track. It leaves Dorset, however, close by the Celtic 
earthwork at Lambert's Castle : and so on to Exeter. 
The evidence for the stretch from Eggardon westwards is 
not strong. 

If the good engineering of an easy road were the sole 
aim of the road-makers, this latter non-Celtic stretch was 
their most sensible effort. But if their object was either 
to move troops to tribal centres or to link those centres up, 
the portion up to Eggardon was the most successful, and 
the remainder useless. For west of Eggardon the road 







THE GREEN ROADS 57 

neglects the earthworks at Cattistock, and the British 
villages above Cerne, the camps above Beaminster and at 
Pilsdon Pen : and it does not proceed, if the Bridport route 
is correctly judged to be the main one, by that principle 
of sight-survey which Mr. Belloc expounds so convincingly 
in The Stane Street. The view-points, the long glimpses 
from peak to peak, are lost by the Bridport route. And some 
rtions at least of the Bridport route must have provided 
ery heavy going in damp weather, with rivers fuller than 
ow (the spring-level was 80 feet higher) : the present road 
is not infrequently flooded. 

There might be several explanations of this seeming 
change of purpose in the road-builders. The track may even 
have been wrongly mapped by modern experts. The last 
effort of British resistance may have been on Eggardon, 
though Pilsdon Pen's earthworks are so strong, and the 
height so commanding, that it would seem almost essential 
for Rome to be able to reach it by a good transport route. 
The branch roads are also interesting. One runs from 
Badbury Rings to near Hamworthy, on Poole Harbour. 
It is believed that Rome had a port there. Another connects 
Dorchester with Weymouth, which, from the Roman 
remains found, was also probably a port even then. The 
earthworks at Flowersbarrow and Bindon Hill, where, 
apart from those two names, the Celtic name Arish Mell also 
survives, are not linked up at all with the Roman road 
system. There is evidence of a track running northwards 
from Badbury to Shaftesbury, along or near the line of 
earthworks above the Stour valley. But there seems to be 
no trace of a road along the real central ridge, west and 
north of Bere Regis, where the noble camp of Rawlsbury 
commands the Dorsetshire Gap. The road from Dorchester 
to Ilchester, on the other hand, runs through territory 
clearly inhabited and fortified by the Celts. 

The position, therefore, seems to be that the chief road in 
the county, so far west as Eggardon Hill, was planned to 
fit existing British settlements ; and its chief local branch- 



58 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

road was the cross-cut to the great west main road at 
Ilchester. The cross-cuts to the ports of Hamworthy and 
Weymouth both, perhaps, non-Celtic seem, however, to 
show the new world-standpoint. If the Celts in Dorset 
used a port at all, it was likely to be at Arish Mell Gap, 
where the chalk in which they loved to build touches the 
sea, and where their names and forts still live ; whereas 
Rome, building with an economic outlook of European 
scope, chose the natural harbours on Poole estuary and 
Weymouth Bay, and linked them up artificially with a road- 
system adapted to the tribal population. But she thought 
it safe, apparently, to leave the minor Celtic centres in the 
county unconnected with the main arteries. 

The nature of the Roman settlement is probably seen 
most accurately in Cranborne Chase, rather than in the 
more highly and perhaps more artificially civilized town of 
Dorchester. Gen. Pitt-Rivers excavated remains of an 
extensive farm or farm-colony near Woodyates. His finds 
are suggestively various. There are a few pieces of fine 
pottery, good ornaments and trinkets, studs of blue and 
yellow enamel on fibulae, decorated furniture of imported 
Spanish wood, an elaborate system of central heating,* coins 
covering the reigns of many emperors ; and alongside 
these things, which a Roman colonist (say, a retired captain 
or sergeant-major) would take care to possess in a so distant 
and savage spot, many remains of farm tools, some well 
finished and clearly imported, but others rough and primitive, 
like native products. The farm might well be like an up- 
country station in Rhodesia to-day. 

" The people of these parts," says Gen. Pitt-Rivers,f 
" in Roman times were much shorter than they are at 
present, shorter than they afterwards became when the 
Teutonic element was introduced. . . . They were not 
hunters, but lived a peaceful agricultural life, surrounded 

* The skeletons discovered show that the inhabitants suffered from 
rheumatoid arthritis. 

| Excavations in Cranborne Chase. 



THE GREEN ROADS 59 

by their flocks and herds. . . . They spun thread, and wove 
it on the spot, and sewed with iron needles." They kept 
horses, oxen, sheep (all of small breeds), mastiffs, terriers, 
and dogs of a dachshund type, roedeer, red deer, swine. 
They ate horse and dog, though not so much as beef. They 
had apparently none of those snails which Rome is said 
to have introduced into Britain. Their wheat was of 
high quality, as might be expected when Britain was a 
granary of the Empire. The labourers seem to have lived 
in wattle and daub huts. 

Dorchester, on the other hand, would be nearer akin to 
the older Pretoria (it was not, however, a Colonia, nor the 
seat of a legion, though very likely troops companies or 
even only a platoon were stationed there from time to 
time). It had its still-preserved walls, its fine amphitheatre, 
a score or more villas of a good standard of provincial 
luxury, its cemetery, its water supply from Compton 
Valence. A little way off, at Wey mouth, there was a temple. 
And it may even have had, as has been said, devotees 
of the new and eventually fashionable religion called 
Christianity. 

There are abundant tokens of the dead past in such a 
place. I was at Maumbury Rings in one of the years during 
which it was excavated. The chalk was cleanly cut into 
tiers of seats. There was a trench between them and the 
central ring, perhaps for safety. The socket-holes that must 
have held barrier posts were still brown with the dye of 
damp wood. The den at the far end had clearly contained 
beasts. And two soldiers of Rome, disinterred once, lie 
again at rest beneath one of the green curves. 

So the Roman-British pursued, in the contentment 
reared and strengthened through ten generations of man's 
life, those arts of peace which an island with no enemies, 
under the shield of a vast Empire, might enjoy. Doubtless, 
as I have said, they heard of the doings that troubled great 
Rome of wars upon distant and to them unimaginable 
frontiers : of the new Eastern religion that Constantine, 



60 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

whom in Britain they knew so nearly, had thrust upon the 
dominions won by the soldiers of older gods : of the heresies 
and radical faiths that shook that young established 
Church, and more particularly of that heresy of Pelagius 
the Briton. There would come to them, slowly and un- 
noticeably and with easy acceptance, as it came to us also, 
the knowledge of little technical improvements of life : better 
nails, a finer earthenware, a cheap imitation of the red 
luxurious Samian, a new art in pot-shaping. There would 
come also the alien splendours of the Roman official : the 
fine stone houses he built, the delicate shining coins he 
decreed to be current over the rough native mint ings, 
the stoves that even poor settlers' houses might expect, 
the intricate wonders of his mosaic pavements, the wide 
paved causeways. They could gradually work their finer 
artistic sensibility into the heavy Roman work. 

There must have been strange memories in the Dorchester 
of those days for men who had been young in the war with 
Vespasian, and for their sons and grandsons. For a thousand 
years their fathers had trodden the ancient tracks from 
hill to hill, from fort to fort. They had walked upon the 
path from Badbury to Mai Dun, from Mai Dun to Eggar 
Dun : they had been wont to flee from the valleys into 
those great strongholds where a whole tribe could live 
securely. And now the narrow old footways upon the green 
hills were paved and made wide and firm, and there was no 
longer war, and the bright chalk trenches grew green with 
disuse : in Mai Dun itself arose a rich man's house of lime 
and stone. Warriors who before would have fought their 
very kinsmen in that land of tribal wars sailed now to the 
Oversea Dominions, to uphold there by their strength and 
skill the power to which they had yielded, the peace in which 
their houses were henceforth set. Upon the ancient wells 
of generations too old even for folk-memory, the rulers had 
traced the circle of a circus, for a spectacle in which Britons 
fought, after the manner of men, with beasts which once 
they had hunted precariously. The ships came trafficking 



THE GREEN ROADS 61 

to Hamworthy : news and merchandise went to and fro 
with regularity. We to-day have to conceive of a national 
strike, or of utter severance from friends across many 
seas, before we can imagine what augmentation of comfort 
the establishment of routine government from an all- 
powerful centre meant to these distant provinces. 

Yet it is in the singular appeal of the great roads that 
Rome seems nearest. I stood once, not long after Belgium 
was first invaded in 1914, above Cattistock, where the 
road is inexorably straight and very lonely. Suddenly the 
unique carillon at Cattistock began playing a hymn tune, 
and I remembered that the thirty-two bells were cast at 
Louvain, then lately ravaged, and that one of the chief 
of them bore the motto " Grant peace in our time, Lord." 
Peace was Rome's gift to Celtic England. There was longer 
peace in England then than at any time since : a peace 
stretching as long as from the last of the Tudors to the House 
of Windsor. 

There are many wonderful stretches of these noble roads 
in Dorset. The structure of the road itself is nowhere 
better seen in England than where it enters the county from 
the north-east. It runs, a broad high dark ridge, four or 
five feet above the down-surface, as inflexibly and as en- 
duringly as the fine modern coach-road from which at this 
point it separates. The modern road goes to the rich little 
valley towns. The old road makes straight for the hill 
fortress of Badbury, whose trees can be seen from many 
other distant hills. The ridge of its actual formation is 
visible also in the stretch a little east of Spettisbury Camp, 
and again near the Milbornes. The road was strongly and 
purposefully engineered : its purpose of peace is still 
visible. 

The portion just north of Badbury Rings, if one comes 
(contrariwise) to it from the west, brings the ages before one 
in a curious jumble. Behind that fir-topped hill lies a wood. 
The road curves past the green ramparts hardly less, in 
places, than the terrific defences of Maiden Castle and, 



62 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

almost invisible, across some cultivated land : and then 
there opens suddenly a pathway among trees so fantastically 
venerable that they seem older even than that ancient 
trackway. Huge wych-elms they are, grey and twisted 
with the deformity of naked time : year after year has 
gripped them, and bent a fibre or turned a shoot, until their 
old arms are the very emblems of unabated agony. Ivy 
crawls upon them, and between grow thick brambles and 
unpruned hawthorns that might guard a Sleeping Beauty 
if the strange awe of the place did not suggest rather a 
sleeping dragon. 

Chivalry, with its capricious romance, its heroism of 
loneliness, was born in the welter of Rome's death. In this 
little acre of meagre forest, where the old Rome's road 
still runs, knights of the new Rome might well have ridden 
on their first adventures. Here a man jingling on a clumsy 
horse might have seen rough bearded knaves in ambush, 
or a maiden tied to a tree : or lions or unicorns or dragons 
or monstrous boars, wherein the world was then putatively 
rich. Guy might meet here a three-headed giant, or 
Arviragus encounter the wizard who could remove rocks 
from the sea : or that student might wander who in a dream 
saw his fellow killed in a stable. Among these trees any 
legend might be true : and yet there is enough of reality 
left in the road to make the sweat and the dirt as plain 
as the romance. If men in the past did fare here upon 
strange errands, nevertheless they hoped or feared as we 
do. They saw the same world, the same incommunicable 
life of other organisms : stepped in the same mud, stumbled 
over the same tree-roots, startled the same race of squawk- 
ing blackbirds. The old tracks are the very vehicle of 
time : this grassy way has been trodden for a millennium 
and a half, and every blade of grass in it, every twig, even 
the very worm-cast mould, is of an ancestry as splendid 
as man's. If it be preserved only by so little as one way- 
farer's steps in a year, it is still the authentic and un- 
diminished chronicle of stories that have become our minds. 



THE GREEN ROADS 63 

It was here, I like to think (and not without some historical 
warrant), that the last stand of Roman Britain against 
the heathen Saxon was made. Badbury may well be the 
Mons Badonicus on which Arthur fought and died : for 
the historians seem agreed that Arthur may really have 
lived, that he checked the Saxons by his final victory, and 
that " the last great battle in the West " took place either 
here or near Bath. 

From Badbury onwards, if one goes eastwards through 
the enchanted forest, the road is like many another ancient 
way for some distance a path maintained for no very 
clear reason save its antiquity. It runs, as the Winchester 
Pilgrim's Way often does, between high hedges, through 
whose interstices there are sometimes views of a pleasant 
spaciousness. Its line is straight : it has the directness 
which popular scholarship ascribes to Rome's ways, though 
it has not often the bare visible strength. It is, in fact, 
a hedged track of no marked character. It crosses a few 
lanes, and is joined by a few others. After many parasangs 
it reaches, with an annoying deviation from its straightness, 
a hamlet populous and great which the Ordnance Map 
shyly refuses to name, and which I decline to incriminate. 
This place is very strange : it is like a loose end of, say, 
Beckenham, cut off and transplanted. Its contents are : 
(1) a gabled, bow -windowed studio - villa - parish - room 
(large enough and comprehensive enough for all those 
functions), which, it is to be hoped, will crumble before 
posterity labels it typical of any period of English 
architecture (it suggests the soul of a retired advertisement 
contractor, with a taste for Birket Foster and bad water 
colours) : (2) a few long low stucco buildings hardly of the 
decent proportions which stucco demands : (3) some 
ordinary ugly cottages which look like 1890 : (4) some 
buildings which simply are 1890 suburban villas, and nothing 
else. Quite a number of houses, no shops, no purpose, 
no character : a phenomenon rare in Dorset. 



64 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The wayfarer must here continue along what, by the 
straight-line method, is the obvious Roman way, past the 
uninteresting cottages. At the top, in a wood, a gate 
to the right bears a threatening notice about privacy. 
The path beyond it leads . . . however. . . . Well, 
at any rate ... the fact is, it is quite possible here to 
walk across the park without directly disregarding any 
notice : and the Roman road (a path of decent ancestry, 
after all : older even than a nineteenth-century peerage) 
runs right through the park, close by the great house. 

Its track continues thence undeviatingly, across the stream 
at Gussage All Saints, up through tumuli over Gussage Down 
one of the alleged sites of Vindogladia, an imperfectly 
identified Roman-British settlement and over the crest 
of Bottlebush Down, where it joins the modern road, 
near a still greater host of tumuli, under Pentridge Hill ; 
and so out of the county : in its way touching the Ox Drove 
across the Wiltshire hills. 

The Ancient Britons, our forefathers not cut off sharp 
from us either by Julius Caesar or by William the twentieth 
or thirtieth Conqueror were no doubt subject to the 
emotions of joy, pity, and terror much as we are. Their 
lives were less secure and more volatile than ours. They 
lived in what are more like the lower portions of our base- 
ment houses of the nineteenth century than anything else 
since : half-buried huts, of which many traces remain on or 
near this great road. They used successively stone, possibly 
iron, and bronze. They secluded flocks and herds of sheep 
and cattle in their vast citadels. They made linen, they 
ate much the same food as, in our simpler moments, we eat. 
They had an organized religion. They did not know the 
potato, the hop, the cherry, root crops, or a hundred other 
pleasant things familiar to us. They had in the course 
of centuries exterminated the beaver, and had at last got 
the better of the wolf, though he still existed in the woods. 
The terrible semi-tropical beasts that Palaeolithic man had 
to face were never their enemies. Our sheep and cattle of 



THE GREEN ROADS 65 

i o-day, like the valley sheep of the ballad, are fatter than 
theirs, which must have been lean, strong, and nearer to a 
wild type. " The number of cattle is very great," said 
Caesar. The turf was infinitely less rich, and there were no 
meadows or hedges. Very probably, in fact, a fastidious 
modern verdict on the Britons would be the familiar 
" manners none, customs beastly." 

That would be the application of a wrong standard. 
Caesar thought Kent "the civillest place in all this isle." 
We have not his opinion on Dorset, since he never visited 
it ; nor have we Vespasian's. But at least this is tolerably 
certain, that the Durotriges were not to Rome as the 
Australian aborigines were to Captain Cook. Their vestiges 
show a civilization nearly as high as that wilich Caesar 
underestimated in Kent. They had long ceased to jabber 
uncouthly, to struggle hard for a bare existence, to be un- 
aware of other folk. On the other hand, they had tribal 
wars. They had had torrents of invasion (fresh hordes of 
Celts) unknown to us except by vague conjecture. They 
knew a great civilization lay east of them. 

Did the coming of Rome seem different from their other 
wars, except in that it was more highly organized, more 
permanent in effect ? As they hurried the herds along the 
hidden way of the Ox Drove, or scuttled hastily, women, 
children, cattle, and domestic implements all confused 
(or perhaps marshalled orderly by preconceived plan), into 
Badbury Rings or Maiden Castle, had they any sense of 
destiny ? Pretty certainly not. They were just afraid and 
angry. Very likely they did not even think they were being 
wronged. But we cannot anyhow get back veritably into 
their minds. That is the supreme defect of archaeology as 
compared with documented history. And we must leave 
it at that. There is only the end of an immense epoch to 
be recorded : an end violent in its early stages, but not 
ungentle in its results, not a catastrophic and final conclusion. 
The settlement at Woodyates (like that at Rockbourne 
Down, a little way off, just over the present Hampshire 



66 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

border) means coalescence, not absorption, nor suppression ; 
a few Romans, Roman law, Roman conveniences, greater 
security, a number of small changes (for the good) in daily 
habits, better houses, better tools, and life as before birth, 
love, marriage, death, with the old trees behind Arthur's 
battlefield outlasting them all. 

What did the incoming Roman think ? He must have 
worked and made others work unceasingly to repair the 
damage of his invasion and render life safe for himself and 
the conquered. Merchants, missionaries of Empire, must 
have come quickly for the fine British gladiators, the large 
British dogs, the bursting British grain sacks. (We know 
from Cicero's letters how in remote Cilicia Pompey and 
Brutus, high financiers and low money-lenders, had swiftly 
got greedy fingers into the work of Empire development). 
Later, the feeling must have been to some extent reversed. 
Priests and politicians and soldiers of fortune came from 
the most distant outposts to disturb the central decadence 
at Rome itself : as it might be a financier from South Africa 
or Canada in London to-day. 

But in the early days, when the first legionary stood 
on Spettisbury Rings, what emotion was in his mind ? 
Probably none, except a certain pride and sense of adventure. 
He could not see, as we see now, the distant towers of 
Wimborne Minster. Yet his Eternal City alone made the 
Minster possible. He could not look out over the sunset, 
and see the few twinkling lights of the village below, or 
hear a train roaring through the cutting in the chalk walls 
which he may have had to storm, and think (as we might 
like him to have thought), " Here am I on the edge of the 
world : all the universe is spinning round me in the twilight, 
and it will change and die : I, Rome, alone am immortal, 
because I am an idea." 

He was probably very tired, and not a Roman at all, but 
some countrified lad from Spain or Africa. All he wanted 
was a good meal and sleep. The next day he must get up 
early and go on to " the next of these beastly barbarian 



THE GREEN ROADS 67 

villages " (he who may so lately have been a barbarian 
himself) : " more fighting, perhaps : Ibernium, Ivernio, 
some such outlandish name." (The correct spelling would 
be settled by the scholars five or six generations later.) 
" Quite a lot of those Brythons there." And a spring, it was 
said better than the swamp he had just crossed below 
Badbury (for to-day's lovely old bridge at Spettisbury was 
not built till fifteen hundred years later). Ibernium seemed 
healthy when he got there : a good place for a properly 
sunk well. And so to-day, if you lean on your stick at the 
green hut circles above Bere Regis, it may suddenly vanish 
into the soft moss where Rome made the well for the Roman- 
British village. 

And thus on to the famous town of Dunium, which Rome 
had really heard of : to be rechristened Durnovaria and 
provide Thomas Hardy with one of his unerring fictitious 
names. As the Roman marched over the last stretch of 
track, he trod land probably unchanged from then till now 
Hardy's Egdon, the noble brown Rainbarrow. He 
could see the marshes of Dorchester before him, and the 
high menacing Ridgeway beyond to the south and west ; 
could discern, as we can still, the notch in the Purbeck 
skyline which is Flowersbarrow camp ; could see far away 
the gap in the hills which Corfe Castle once guarded long 
after his time, long before ours ; and in front of him the 
huge white trenches of Mai Dun. 

And after Dunium ? Prisoners probably told of the other 
great forts at Abbotsbury (its Celtic name has not survived) 
and Eggar Dun and Pils Dun. The troops, with their 
amazing celerity of movement, their perfect and compact 
equipment, must hurry on to the sunset, along the British 
track that the inhabitants would soon have to turn into a 
proper paved road. It leaves to-day's turnpike-era road 
about three miles west of Dorchester, and goes straight up 
the hill to the next view-point. It is a grass-grown lane 
between hedges now ; sometimes unhedged, swinging with 
the topmost line of the hills, still, somehow or other, pre- 



68 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

served ; in some places curiously fenced by slabs of stone 
that might once have been its own pavement. 

It climbs steadily on for several miles, a little up or down 
as the hills run, following the ridge with unyielding certainty. 
There is no life on it at all but that which has always been 
there gorse and bramble and hawthorn, harebell and fox- 
glove, toad-flax and scabious : green generations that may 
outlive us, their younger brother. So deserted is the track 
that in all my wanderings upon it I have but once met 
another person a solitary postman. He appeared to be 
going nowhere in particular : but he seemed somehow 
symbolic, a unit of the organization that was just coming to 
its first birth in England when the road itself was first 
paved. The Roman posts ran along that road. 

Rome is. apt to stand out in the mind as a self-contained 
thing. But, as the excavations in Cranborne Chase prove, 
here in Britain there was the half-fluid life of a frontier. 
Here in this last plain stretch of the Roman Road in Dorset 
one gains a geographical vision, as it were, of the limits of 
the far-flung Empire. The lonely track takes a final slight 
bend and runs between thick bramble hedges, where families 
of stoats play openly, almost deriding the multitudinous 
rabbit. (A hawk once chased and was in turn chased by 
my dog here, so aloof and unsophisticated is the place.) 
Then the hedge ends, and the sea suddenly blazes on your 
left, as though the Channel were a vast heliograph. The 
Devon.coast?is before you. A curving promontory, bare but 
for one little tree,* ridged with trenches, stretches westwards 
for forty score yards, and ends abruptly. You are on 
Eggardon Hill, one of the greatest and perhaps the most 
nobly placed of all the Neolithic fortresses of the West. 
With it ends the chalk backbone of England. Save for 
Marshwood Vale, the rest is Devon and Cornwall Dyvnaint, 
the country of the " Welsh." Dorset, as I have said, is the 
real English frontier the place where invasions and con- 

* A smuggler once made a plantation of trees there, to be a sea-mark for 
his trade ; but an unsympathetic government cut it down. 



THE GREEN ROADS 69 

quests weakened into fusion : beyond are the purer, older 
races, the blacker, older faiths. 

When they had taken Eggardon and they approached, 
one can hardly doubt, from the only direction from which 
it could be taken by force, for all the sides other than the 
eastern are precipices, up which even a terrier after rabbits 
must go slowly the Romans looked out towards the 
uttermost west to which they ever penetrated. On Pilsdon 
Pen alone is there a western prospect comparable to this, 
and that view is inferior because it does not include the same 
vision of Golden Cap, nor the same bare deep wide cleft 
made by the tiny Bridport rivers. 

It is a magical vision, that from Eggardon. You are 
looking into sunset kingdoms into which you must almost 
fear to enter, lest there be in them enchantments from 
which you cannot escape : but happy enchantments. You 
see, as elsewhere in England, the " coloured counties," 
the whole of several huge valleys parcelled like a map. 
You see depths of shade, of luminous mist, spaces of blazing 
sea, clean- outlined hills, billowing in waves to a horizon 
thirty or more miles away ; and at the same time you have 
fields almost under you but several hundred feet beneath 
you. Nowhere in Dorset, nowhere, for that matter, in the 
south of England, have I felt (and resisted) so strongly the 
call to the West that has made European civilization. 

I say resisted, for here to me England, except for a little 
necessary stretch of foothills, ends. Here, on this glorious 
headland, is all the happiness and peace I can ever desire. 
Here I can look out and be sure that in the end I shall 
attain to Tier-nan-Oge, as my forefathers the Ancient 
Britons hoped to fortunate isles " beyond the baths of 
all the western stars." I can look down on life hence, as I 
look down on the lane below, and say " I am on the heights : 
I have lost the whole world and gained my own soul." 



" Some, therefore, of the miserable remnant, being taken in the mountains, 
were murdered in great numbers ; others, constrained by famine, 
came and yielded themselves to ba slaves for ever to their foes, running 
the risk of boing instantly slain, which truly was the greatest favour 
that could be offered them : some others passed beyond the sea with 
loud lamentations instead of the voice of exhortation. ' Thou hast 
given us as sheep to be slaughtered, and among the Gentiles hast thou 
dispersed us.' Others, committing the safeguard of their lives, which 
were in continual jeopardy, to the mountains, precipices, thickly 
wooded forests, and to the rocks of the seas (albeit with trembling 
hearts), remained still in their country." 

THE EPISTLE OF OILDAS THE WISE 

(Ed. J. A. Giles). 

" In the meantime, [Alfred] the King, during the frequent wars and other 
trammels of this present life, the invasion of the pagans, and his own 
daily infirmities of body, continued to carry on the government, and 
to exercise hunting in all its branches ; to teach his workers in gold 
and artificers of all kinds, his falconers, hawkers, and dog-keepers ; 
to build houses majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his 
ancestors, by his new mechanical inventions ; to recite the Saxon 
books, and especially to learn by heart the Saxon poems, and to make 
others learn them ; and he alone never desisted from the mass and 
other daily services of religion ; he was frequent in psalm singing 
and prayer, at the hours both of the day and the night. He also went 
to the churches in the night time to pray, secretly, and unknown to 
his courtiers ; he bestowed alms and largesses on both natives and 
foreigners of all countries ; he was affable and pleasant to all, and 
curiously eager to investigate things unknown." 

ASSER'S LIFE OF ALFRED (Ed. J. A. Giles). 



V 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 




WHEN Rome went, peace went. Peace herself 
had indeed already set about going, for the 
barbarians had long been raiding Britain as 
well as the inner Empire. But the withdrawal of the 
legions, and with them of authoritative central govern- 
ment, meant that organization (which may be much more 
important than plausible peace) also disappeared. The 
picture given by all the chroniclers, whatever their value, 
and however great their discrepancies, is of a country 
disorganized, frightened, incoherent : not so much of civil 
war, though that may also have taken place, as of civil 
dissolution. 

It is not agreed how or when Dorset became Saxon. 
The battle of Mons Badonicus, whether it took place at 
Badbury Rings or not, was probably fought in 516. It 

73 



74 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

seems likely that the invaders left Dorset alone (save for 
peaceful penetration) until, proceeding westwards from 
Salisbury, they conquered Somerset in the days of King 
Ine. 

By then, however, the county had a strong Saxon tinge. 
Ine's own sister founded Wimborne Minster in 705, and 
his Bishop Aldhelm Sherborne Abbey : Aldhelm had also 
associations with the Isle of Purbeck. There was a monastery 
at Wareham, too, though the Saxon church still standing 
on the walls there may not have been built till much later. 

It must have seemed, indeed, under the beneficent 
episcopate of Aldhelm, as though order and peace were 
coming back to the troubled county, now veritably part of 
the strong kingdom of Wessex. But two generations later, 
in 787, came the first sign of new torment. Three ships of 
the Northmen appeared off the Dorset coast (probably at 
Weymouth) and slew the King's reeve when he sought to 
question them. He was the first Englishman they killed. 
The ninth century was to suffer worse and more frequent 
raids, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records with blunt 
accuracy : 

" A.D. 833. This year fought King Egbert with thirty- 
five pirates at Char mouth, where a great slaughter was 
made, and the Danes remained masters of the field. . . . 

" A.D. 837. Alderman Ethelhelm, with the men of Dorset- 
shire, fought with the Danish army in Portland Isle, and for 
a good while put them to flight : but in the end the Danes 
became masters of the field, and slew the Alderman. . . . 

" A.D. 840. This year King Ethelwulf fought at Char- 
mouth with thirty -five ship's crews, and the Danes remained 
masters of the place." 

Before the tenth century ended, to sack Wareham had 
become almost an annual pastime with the pirates. It took 
an Alfred to deal with them. 

From the time when he buried at Wimborne the brother 
whom he succeeded, till the last year of the ninth century, 
when he himself was laid to rest at Winchester, Alfred must 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 75 

have been constantly in Dorset. So also, unhappily for 
Dorset, were the Danes : " the greater part of that province 
was depopulated by them." They lay much of one whole 
winter at Dorchester (very probably in Poundbury). But 
in 876 their fleet of 120 vessels was caught in a mist and storm 
off Swanage, and utterly destroyed. Yet through all those 
years of trouble ^Elfric was at Cerne Abbas, making it a 
centre of learning for half England. 

The next century and a half was as full of tragedy as 
Alfred's reign was of splendid romance. Immediately on 
his death his nephew seized Wimborne : and though he was 
easily suppressed by Alfred's son Edward, his attempt was 
prophetic of the domestic strife to come. The Wessex 
Kings of all England were at constant war with Mercia or 
the Danes or their own kin. Under Edward's son, Athelstan, 
however, Dorset may have enjoyed greater peace. He 
established four mints there at Shaftesbury, Wareham, 
Dorchester, and Bridport and his connection with the 
county, apart from his foundation of Milton Abbey, seems 
to have been close. In his reign, it is probable, the bones 
of St. Wite or Candida were brought in their leaden reliquary 
to Whitchurch Canonicorum, where they still rest. 

For some little time Dorset itself was untroubled, though 
it may well be that her sons had to perform their military 
service with the Fyrd in the north, where most of the fight- 
ing took place. And then, in 978, occurred the event which 
stirred the imagination of England as well as of Dorset, 
and helped to give Shaftesbury in years to come a glory that 
spread far beyond England : the murder of the boy King 
Edward at Corfe by his stepmother. 

It will be convenient, before considering the direct 
effect of that crime on Dorset, to look forward to the uneasy 
period that ended with the coming of " King Norman." 
The chroniclers say that it was ushered in with portents : 
" this same year (979) was seen a bloody welkin oft-times in 
the likeness of fire : and that was most apparent at midnight, 
and so in misty beams was shown : but when it began to 



76 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 



dawn, then it glided away." Three years later " the pirates 
landed and plundered Portland. In 998 they encamped at 
Frome-mouth, " and went up everywhere, as widely as they 
would, into Dorsetshire." In 1001 they marched through 
Hampshire and Dorset into Devon and back, burning and 
laying waste. In 1003 Sweyn ravaged the land from Devon 
to Hampshire. In 1006 all the population from Wessex was 
called up and " lay out all the harvest under arms against 
the enemy. " In 1 1 5 Canute himself encamped at Wareham , 
" and then plundered in Dorset and in Wiltshire and in 
Somerset " ; and there was a battle near Gillingham the 
next year, in which the Danes were defeated. 

When Canute became King of all England, there was 
greater peace, and by the time he died at Shaftesbury in 
1035, Dorset may well have recovered from the incessant 
ravaging. It was his steward Ore who founded the abbey 
of Abbotsbury (where still the Saxon carving of the Trinity 
survives), and Ore's wife Tola had possessions in mid- 
Dorset, where her name lives in Tolpiddle. The mother of 
the Confessor owned Dorset land, and the great Earls 
Godwin and Harold held estates there. Godwin was fre- 
quently at Portland, from which base he harried the south 
coast in 1052. Brihtric is recorded to have held many 
hides. Aiulf the Sheriff had estates at Durweston and Marsh- 
wood, growing vines, according to his fancy, in the almost 
forgotten Celtic way (he alone in the county suffered little 
loss of lands at the Norman Conquest). But save for a few 
name? like that, there is little direct evidence of the country's 
activities after 1015 until in 1066, " very many " Dorset men 
fell fighting round Harold under the Dragon Flag at Hastings. 

There were, then, in this corner of Wessex, three main 
factors at work in the five or six centuries after the Roman 
peace crumbled : the wars of races and eventually of 
dynasties : the slow progress of the resettlement of 
agriculture, with the obscure gradual birth of what we still 
call the agricultural labourer a greater figure, a greater 
problem, than any dynasty : and the solemn, sincere vision 



, 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 77 

and growing power of Holy Church. They were all to become 
dominant in turn: the labourer not till the Black Death 
altered economic conditions, and then only for a moment ; 
the dynasts as soon as the strong rule of the Conqueror ended. 

The Church, made strong in the West by Aldhelm and 
Alfred and Dunstan, was to hold men's imaginations for six 
centuries more, under the impulse of such scenes as were 
inspired by the murder of Edward. Follow the path of the 
martyr from Corfe to Shaftesbury. 

The story of the murder is simple and well known.* 
The boy-king had reigned three years and eight months, 
when, having hunted in the woods round Wareham (" now 
only a few bushes," says the chronicler, writing perhaps in 
the twelfth century), he remembered that his younger 
brother Ethelred lay at Corfe a few miles away (" where 
now" and by implication not then "a large castle 
has been built."). He loved Ethelred with a pure and sincere 
heart. He dismissed his attendants, and rode to Corfe 
alone, fearing no one, since not even in the least thing 
was he aware that he had offended any man. 

Word of his approach was brought to Elfrida, his step- 
mother, who, " full of wicked plans and guile," rejoiced at 
the opportunity of obtaining her desire, and hastened to 
meet him and offer him hospitality. He said he had but 
come to see his brother, whereupon she invited him to 
refresh himself with drink. As the cup touched his lips, 
one of her servants, " bolder in spirit and more vile in 
crime " than others, stabbed him from behind. He fell 
dead, " changing his earthly kingdom for a heavenly one, 
his transitory crown of a day for the unfading diadem of 
eternal happiness." 

The body was hurriedly carried for concealment to a 
cottage (local tradition says it was thrown into a well)f . 

* The account here given is freely adapted, from the St. John's College, 
Oxford, MS. life in monkish Latin, first printed by the present Dean 
of Winchester in 1903. Mr. W. H. Hudson has given a fine romantic 
version of the story in Dead Man's Plack. 

t The chronicler states that a spring of pure water broke out from the 
place where the body was cast later. 



78 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

But that night the woman of the cottage, old, and blind 
from birth, a pensioner of the Queen's, watching by the 
body, had a vision : the glory of the Lord filled her hovel 
with a great splendour, and she recovered her sight and saw 
that which she guarded. When the Queen heard of this, she 
was struck with terror, and had the body cast out into the 
marshes that lie between Corfe and Wareham. Herself she 
went hastily to her house at Bere Regis, northward across 
the Heath, taking the new king, Ethelred the Redeless, with 
her. He, poor boy, gave way to grief, and did not cease 
to weep and lament. But Elfrida, driven to fury, beat him 
with candles so savagely (" she had no other weapon to her 
hand ") that ever after he could not bear candle-light. 

But her bitterness could not prevail to hide her deed. 
In a short time, the legend says, a column of fire stood over 
the spot where the body had been thrown down. Certain 
devout men of Wareham perceived it, found the body, 
and bore it to their town, amid a great concourse of people 
mourning as it were with one voice. They carried it past 
the Priory to the church of Lady St. Mary, and laid it in a 
rude shrine there. The shrine still stands, in part, at the 
south-east of that gracious and beautifully placed house of 
God ; and still St. Edward's stone coffin rests in the 
church. 

The divine pillar of light must have shone down on the 
same brown heathlands of Stoborough (mother-town of old 
Wareham, it is said) as the sun looks down upon to-day. 
Had the devout men had our book-learning, they might 
have had a vision of another old chieftain, a nameless king 
of the Neolithic Age, who lay buried in a deer-skin near their 
path : they might have remembered those strange British 
or Danish Christian chieftains whose memorial stones, in 
Wareham Church, were plainer then, perhaps, than in the 
poor fragments left to-day. They must have seen the almost 
newly built castle by the river as they crossed it to go to the 
shrine, and have thought of this fresh renewal of the terror 
their town seemed to have passed through not knowing 




S fe 



W S> 

Pn .5 

11 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 79 

that worse was to come. Their act, however, was perhaps 
just what the chronicler calls it devout, a duty of religion 
and the expression of human grief. 

There were other miracles during the year the body 
rested at Wareham in its simple shrine : and at last, after 
the end of the year, it was exhumed and found to be yet 
incorrupt. It was lifted by the hands of reverent men and 
set on a bier, and borne with a great following of clergy and 
people to Shaftesbury, to the famous abbey of Mary the 
Mother of God. 

It is not difficult to see that procession : stately enough, 
may be, for ravaged Wessex, but poor beside the splendour 
that the martyr was soon to bring to his last resting-place. 
The brown figures, straggling over roads or tracks that even 
now in April (the month of the translation) are none too 
easy, must have taken more than one day over the twenty- 
mile journey. We cannot tell which track they followed : 
all the roads north lead in the end to Shaftesbury. I like to 
think that they chose that beautiful deserted byway 
across the open heath, from which to-day there is a magical 
prospect of Corfe Castle, in its gap, and the shining clear 
ridge of Purbeck. The red and green fungi fringe would 
star the brown earth then as now, the bog myrtle scent the 
air. 

Thence, in time, I think, the pilgrims would cross the 
Stour and climb to the dry clean ridge that runs from 
Blandford due north. Leaving the valleys, even the 
Minster's chapel at Iwerne, on their left, they would come at 
last to a place behind Fontmell and Melbury Downs where 
the ancient Ox Drove from the east vanishes. There a black 
copse makes a cleavage in the green to right and left. The 
trees sink abruptly into a steep valley. For a mile or more 
this valley runs low and slim, interrupted, at almost regular 
intervals, by long transverse slopes and hollows, whose 
denuded flanks show a peculiar cold blue soil. The ghostly 
deeps are folded regularly, like the narrow central trackways 
formed if one interlaces the fingers of the two hands, knuckles 



80 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

upwards. At the end a huge round hill blocks the channel. 
Along the right-hand ridge the Ox Drove begins or ends 
its course, and a view of other slopes and uplands to the 
north is opened. 

Hitherto the western edge of the hills has, at most points, 
kept the outer western prospect invisible. And as one looks 
to the east from behind Melbury Down, it seems as if a man 
might walk for ever, as in Purbeck, poised over void space, 
silent, remote, never beholding the dark, patient folk who 
live below among trees and streams. And then suddenly the 
long track falters. The hills drop all away, and the wide 
scroll of Blackmore Vale lies open " a deep country, full 
of pasture, yielding plenty of well-fed beeves, muttons, and 
milch kine." Mile upon mile of trim rich land, mapped out 
into fields like the pieces of a dissected puzzle, fall and rise 
until, half a day's long walk away, they reach the central 
ridge of the county, nine hundred feet high. This fertile 
country stretches west and south-west almost without 
bound : and the eye travels over it equably, to be arrested 
only by isolated heights to the south and north : to the 
south, those along which the pilgrims' track had already 
curved : to the north by Shaftesbury still Shaston on the 
milestones the legendary British town of Palladour. 

It is this northern height which holds the attention most 
magically. Here truly is a city set on a hill : neither Rye 
nor Glastonbury Tor stands up more sharply from the plain. 
A dark skyline of trees, a shining square tower, blue wreaths 
of smoke, clustered golden houses all hung upon a green 
precipice that is the city of Palladour. A city of dreams, 
the perfect description by a great writer calls it : dreams of 
the dead, for whom the multitudinous sad-toned sheep- 
bells of the downs seem to be for ever ringing lamentably. 
Men live and move and have their being in Palladour busily 
enough to-day. It is as comfortable and pleasing a country 
town as any in England. Its civic spirit and corporate 
activities are vigorous, and its dwellers prosper. But in the 
old time before them it was no mere country town. It 



(THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 81 

as a city of prophets, priests, and kings, " dear for its 
putation through the world," a habitation of pride and 
beauty and immemorial legend : of which magnificence 
to-day even the legend is only a dimly remembered 
dream, recorded in a few half -buried stones. Shaftesbury 
seems to stand up out of the valley mists like a city 
of ghosts. 

Not less aerial does it appear from within. If from the 
plain it climbs skyward with a sudden gleaming aspiration, 
from its own ancient terraces it is still a place apart, 
hung delicately above the gross earth by the art of Merlin : 
a haven of the fabled Isle of Gramarye itself. 

For a thousand years Palladour was a place of reverence. 
Its antiquity is wild myth. Lud built here his city Palladour, 
says one monkish chronicler : and Lud was eighth in the 
line from the no less fabulous Brute himself. A certain 
Cicuber, says another, founded at Palladour three temples, 
" and placed in them flamens " : but this scribe, rashly 
precise, gives Cicuber a date many generations older than 
the order of flamens. Yet a third speaks of Hudibras, and a 
fourth of Cassibelan. The exact truth of such tales matters 
not. They are our English counterpart of the Heracleid 
pedigree the assimilation and adaptation and handing on 
in their chronicles, by the conquering Saxon immigrants, 
of the still dominant traditions of the conquered. It is 
probable that Romans or Roman-Britons dwelt at Palladour. 
It is not established that there was any town there before 
them. 

It is in 888 that the greatness of Shaston really begins, 
when Alfred rebuilt the city and established the Abbey, 
endowing it with many acres of rich land, " with the men 
and other appurtenances, as they now are, and my daughter 
Ethelgiva." He dedicated it to the Virgin. A century 
later, when the body of Edward the Martyr was brought 
hither, St. Edward was joined to St. Mary in the patronage 
of the growing house. Thereafter, with the holy shrine 
of the Martyr to glorify it, it increased rapidly in wealth 



82 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

and power, so as to overshadow all the abbeys of South 
Wessex, and give ground for the saying that if its abbess 
(it was a Benedictine nunnery) could marry the abbot of 
Glastonbury, " their heir would hold more land than the 
King of England." But for all the nunnery's wealth, even 
the King of England himself still held land upon precarious 
tenure, as a gift to the Abbey shows. In 1001, when the 
Danes were burning and reburning the ports of Dorset, and 
holding territory far inland in other regions, Ethelred the 
King bestowed on the nuns a " monastery and vill " a 
dozen miles away to the north-west, to be a safe refuge 
from foes he could not repel. By an irony of history, 
King Canute himself died in the Abbey thirty-four years 
later. 

By Domesday Shaston, even then a borough, stood high 
among the towns of the south. It had three mints, sixty- 
six houses in the King's demesne, and one hundred and 
eleven in the abbess's. That powerful lady could command 
one hundred and fifty-one bordars, and owned, besides 
the various Abbey buildings, " a garden, value sixty-five 
shillings . ' ' With the King she halved the manor of Palladour , 
and continued in that possession till the Dissolution. Her 
house ranked among the first four nunneries of England ; 
within the boundaries of the borough were twelve churches, 
certain chantries, two hospitals, and a small priory. The 
number of the nuns ranged at various periods from fifty- 
five to one hundred and twenty. At the Dissolution, the 
income of the Abbey was 1300 a year : none too much for 
the upkeep of such state as included, among other buildings, 
" the great bakehouse, the pastry house, the breadhouse, 
the Long Stable, the three great base courts, the laundry 
house, the star-chamber, the wardrobe chamber, the green 
chamber, the second great stable, the millhouse, the malt- 
house, the brewhouse, the hay-house, the larder-house, 
the wool-house, the gardens, the park, the dovehouse." 
Truly, as a stout Protestant historian admits, " the town 
made a very great figure in times of popery." 




THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 83 

Yet it may well be that such magnificence defeated its 
own ends. There is hardly a word of notable events between 
the Norman Conquest and the Dissolution. One Sir Osbert 
Gifford was stripped and whipped in Shaston " for three 
Sundays together in the market-place and parish church," 
in 1285, for stealing two nuns from Wilton. Elizabeth, wife 
the Bruce, was lodged here civilly, as a royal prisoner, 
1313 and 1314. And that, except the rites and levies of 
ihe Church, the arrival and departure of countless pilgrims, 
and the lawsuits and commerce of the citizens, seems to 
be all that took place in Shaston in five hundred years. 
It was a shrine of the blessed dead, and the home of plain- 
living Englishmen ; no more. Its glory, when Wessex 
was no longer a separate unit in the English polity, was too 
great for it. Long before the Reformation its twelve churches 
were too heavy a burden, and many began to fall into decay. 
Not the most discreet and tolerant behaviour of the last 
abbess could persuade Henry VIII that Alfred's house still 
served a need. In 1553 it was dissolved, care being taken 
that the nuns suffered no worldly discomfort ; and in a very 
short time the fabric vanished. Its stones are the dust of 
Wessex roads, or the walls of later houses ; sometimes 
put to strange uses, as when a tomb canopy became a 
burgher's chimney-piece. The bones of St. Edward are 
lost, the gold and jewels of his resting-place dissipated over 
the world. A few gravestones, the base of a column or two, 
a thin layer of wall here and there, a little fragment of what 
may even be the authentic record of Alfred's own foundation, 
a leaden bull cast aside in a cellar, where the writ of the 
Vicar of God no longer runs that is now the Abbey Church 
of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Edward the Martyr in Palla- 
dour. A huge wall still stands, a wonder of architecture 
and strength to this day ; it is but a poor piece of the 
boundary of the Abbey Park. 

It was not only the great house that disappeared. The 
churches, already in 1553 falling into disuse, fell also into 
misuse. Of the twelve within the borough, one alone 



ate 



84 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

(St. Trinity) is now left to maintain continuity and celebrate 
daily the religion of Western Europe. One other, a venerable 
and gracious building of the fifteenth century, is preserved, 
an empty but lovely shell, with a noble peal of bells still 
rung upon occasion. They do their best to recall the time 
when all Blackmore Vale must have resounded with the 
glad sounds from the high hill ; when a man could inscribe 
in the belfry his conviction that 

" Of all the music that is played or sung, 
There is none like bells if they are well rung." 

In this desolate church are sad memorials some fine oak 
and a little old glass, gravely beautiful ; recesses, doors, 
pillars, now void of meaning ; and in a crypt-cellar below, 
traces of a former altar. This cellar lately re-acquired 
for the church not long ago belonged to a neighbouring 
tavern ; and within living memory there ascended into the 
church above, during the services, the fumes of ale and 
tobacco. 

The fall of the Abbey, though it was not, in Shaston any 
more than elsewhere, the definite end of Roman Catholicism 
there, or the definite birth of Protestantism, meant to the 
borough an obvious depreciation of life. Thenceforth it 
must live for itself alone. It became local, not national. 
There was no longer any reason for travellers to visit it 
except in passing. The great past was lost, whatever 
memories it may have left for a few generations. Its 
former splendour is to-day not so much forgotten as 
obliterated. Palladour, to that extent, is not the city of 
Hudibras and Alfred and Canute, but a mere market town. 
A stronger thread of unbroken life, however, runs in the 
families of its inhabitants, whose names have changed little 
in the secular progression. One house in particular still 

preserves a pure lineage. There are to-day X 's in and 

near Palladour. They have a pedigree traceable beyond 
doubt, step by step without intermission, to 1243. The name 
ia in Domesday, and it was old then. For ten centuries 






THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 85 

X 's have dwelt on the same acre of England : their dust 

is the very soil of Shaftesbury. 

Less ancient, but not much less, and apparently not less 
permanent, are other local names and usages. The non- 
conforming community (now diverse, but formerly uniform) 
is continuous to so far back as the reign of Henry VIII ; 
it is one of the oldest in the country ; it is in a sense the 
natural offspring of Alfred's Abbey. The street names in 
many cases are exactly as they are in court-leet rolls of 
Edward IV. The market of the borough is still held (as it 
was held under Elizabeth, and before her, under that almost 
queen, the Lady Abbess) on the seventh day of the week, 
and on the same spot ; and still on Saturdays the awkward 
kine are frightened this way and that by barbarous devices, 
much as they were frightened by Britons and Saxons and 
Normans. The market house, rebuilt, like most of the 
habitations of corporate life in the borough, in the early 
nineteenth century, stands on the site of the old stocks, the 
bull-ring, the whipping-post : an evolution, if not exactly a 
direct succession. It preserves, in certain features, the last 
decencies of the Georgian Era pleasant domestic pro- 
portions, a delicious canopy for the mayor's seat, some 
portraits and records. It preserves also older things, like 
the standard bushel measure of the place, dated 1670. 
Best of all, it houses the byzant or besant of Shaston : 
an emblem of singular suggestiveness. 

Briefly and strictly, the besant a vernacular form of 
" besom " is a relic of the past. This gracious object 
offers to us one of those vestigial fictions so abundant in 
English law and custom. It is the symbol of a practice that 
died not a century ago. It must be premised that until 
recently Shaftesbury was dependent upon its lowlands for 
water. Geology, in giving it, by isolation, strategic and 
aesthetic advantages, has denied it the office of a watershed. 
So its folk must go to the springs on the lower slopes, 
especially to Enmore Green, half a mile away. Within 
living memory donkeys plodded to and fro with barrels, 



86 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

for hire. But Enmore Green is in neither the borough 
nor the manor of Shaston. The town, therefore, may not 
draw water there as of right, but only upon leave given. 
And that leave was formerly to be won, not by purchase 
nor by service, but by the yearly ritual of a solemn dance, 
wherein burgesses must move fantastically round " a staff 
or besom adorned with feathers, pieces of gold rings, and 
other jewels, called a prize besom." For one whole hour by 
the clock " there they shall dance, with their minstrels and 
mirth of game " ; and they must give to the bailiff who 
witnessed this duty, a penny loaf, a gallon of ale, a 
raw calf's head, and a pair of gloves ; which if they 
do not, " then the said bailiff and his men shall stop 
the water of the wells of Enmore from the borough of 
Palladour." 

What that ceremony may have meant originally is beyond 
guess. In the indenture just quoted, it is mentioned as 
a custom set up " time out of remembrance and mind " ; 
and that document itself was signed in 18 Henry VIII. 
From the day appointed for the rite, it might have been 
a combination of May Day observance (itself antique 
beyond the memory of man) and the rendering of symbolic 
dues. It is said that two persons called the Lord and the 
Lady were noteworthy figures in the procession.* At any 
rate, it was a binding ceremony. Even as late as the be- 
ginning of the nineteenth century, a failure to carry it out 
did cause the water of the wells of Enmore to be stopped 
from the borough of Palladour. In 1830 the custom ceased, 
by permission of the Lord of the Manor ; it had become not 
merely unmeaning, but expensive the decoration of the 
besom and the gay trappings of the dance alone cost the 
corporation twenty pounds or more. And so another 
immemorial simplicity was broken. Only the besom sur- 
vives a delicious gilt pineapple on a short pole, in a glass 

* I am reminded by my mother that the Lord and Lady were habitual 
and^important persons in the chimney-sweep's May Day ceremony, which 
personally I just remember seeing as a small boy. They accompanied the 
Jack-in-the-green. 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 87 

case in the Town Hall parlour ; a more ancient emblem, 
perhaps, than either of the town's superb maces. 

Such, then, is the profounder past of Palladour ; a past 
which many an English country town might envy, and yet 
which many such towns might parallel. A birth in primal 
mists ; five hundred years of a fame that spread even over 
Europe ; then a shrinking to the interests of a twenty-mile 
circle. From 1553 onwards the town lay outside the middle 
current of great things ; seldom indeed, did even the outer 
ripples touch it. Its greatest activity was typical of its 
history after the Dissolution : it tried not to have any 
history. Palladour was the head-quarters of the un- 
fortunate Clubmen, of whom I speak later. 

There was one other episode in the town's story, however, 
which resounded beyond Blackmore Vale, even into West- 
minster Hall itself, in 1778. Shaston decided that two 
" nabobs " (persons suitably enriched at the expense of 
India) should represent it in the House of Commons. 
Unhappily it came to this decision upon questionable 
grounds. The voters of this earlier Eatanswill were not 
entirely free and independent (there were, apparently, 
less than two-score freeholders). The nabobs were returned 
by what was afterwards called, in Parliament, " the shame- 
ful venality of this town." The procedure, it was alleged, 
was as follows : " A person concealed under a ludicrous 
and fantastical disguise, and called by the name of Punch, 
was placed in a small apartment, and through a hole in 
the door delivered out to the voters parcels containing 
twenty guineas each, upon which they were conducted to 
another apartment in the same house, where they found 
another person called Punch's secretary, who required 
them to sign notes for the value received : these notes were 
made payable to another imaginary character, to whom 
was given the name of Glenbucket." The affairs of the 
constituency occupied the House of Commons for some time, 
and the Law Courts for more : but one conclusion all the 
various verdicts amounted to was that the nabobs were 



88 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

improperly elected. Their exploit affords evidence, with 
an interesting fulness of detail, of what the poll in a rotten 
borough meant. At present, it is to be feared, Palladour 
does not elect two members, nor even one ; it is but a centre 
of a county division. 

For the rest, it is to-day a comely town, full of that 
pleasant, busy English peace which Jews might respect and 
Americans adore. Men brew good ale there. They live 
decently and prosperously, tilling the valley lands, pasturing 
their sheep on the hills, and trafficking in cattle. Agriculture 
has not changed much, even if, after God knows how many 
thousand years of slowly growing experience, science may 
be altering the husbandman's implements. But the soul 
of a people changes. Perhaps some day Palladour will 
lose the world and regain its soul. Perhaps it will remember 
the sundial motto translated on one of its own house -walls 
Pereant et imputantur ; "So speed we, but the reckoning 
bideth." In the twentieth century the old faith has gone, 
with all its monstrous abuses ; but there is no new faith in 
its place no common hope that can make Everyman's 
spirit fill the whole world and rejoice that the stars are his 
jewels. In Palladour there is no vision, save perhaps one 
that was given me by the eyes of a man of the Naval 
Division, trained hard by, who told me, with a face of horror 
that had got past grief or fear, of what he had seen at 
Gallipoli. Yet hither to Shaftesbury, if ghosts could dream, 
their thoughts would surely wander, till the gleaming hill 
became populous with the innumerable dead. Here they 
would stand looking out, south, and east, and west, as of old 
they stood, watching for the dim hope or danger or the 
departing joy far below in the weald. There is no scene 
which the imagination may not readily picture, whether it 
be Alfred coming from Wareham in triumph to found his 
Abbey ; or the hasty messenger from Corfe with tidings 
that a king was murdered ; or the sad and splendid cavalcade 
of the martyr's reinterment ; or that other mourning 
procession that bore away the great Danish king to his tomb 



THE HEATHEN CONQUERORS 89 

at Camelot ; or tithe-waggons creeping up to the rich 
Abbey, summoners jingling forth to expedite the reluctant ; 
pilgrims as gay as Chaucer's climbing the last slope of their 
journey, the black mud of the valley on their feet now 
chequered with the white of the hill ; mirth and solace at 
the many inns. So might our forefathers renew old laughter 
and old tears ; saddened, perhaps, and yet rejoicing that 
Palladour still stands, that still in their hill- town human 
hearts, their sons' hearts, beat with the same frailty, the 
same strength, the same eternal striving. 



VI 

If any person wishes to know what kind of man he was, or what honour 
he had, or of how many lands he was lord, then will we write about 
him as well as we understood him ; we who often looked upon him, 
and lived somewhile in his court. This King William then that we 
speak about was a very wise man, and very rich ; more splendid and 
powerful than any of his predecessors were. He was mild to the good 
men that loved God, and beyond all measure severe to the men that 
gainsaid his will. . . . Amongst other things is not to be forgotten 
that good peace that he made in this land ; so that a man of any 
account might go over his kingdom unhurt with his bosom full of 
gold. . . . Assuredly in his time had men much distress, and very 
many sorrows. Castles he let men build, and miserably swink the 
poor. The king himself was so very rigid, and extorted from his 
subjects many marks of gold, and many hundred pounds of silver ; 
which he took of his people, for little need, by right and by unright. 
He was fallen into covetousness, and greediness he loved withal. 
He made many deer-parks, and he established laws therewith ; so that 
whosoever slew a hart or a hind should be deprived of his eyesight. 
As he forbade men to kill the harts, so also the boars ; and he loved 
the tall deer as if he were their father. Likewise he decreed by the 
hares, that they should go free. His rich men bemoaned it, and the 
poor shuddered at it. But he was so stern that he recked not the 
hatred of them all ; for they must follow withal the King's will, if 
they would live, or have land or possessions, or even his peace." 

THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE. 

' ' Mr. Clare is one of the most rebellest rozums you ever knowed not a 
bit like the rest of the family ; and if there's one thing that he do 
hate more than another 'tis the notion of what's called a' old family. 
He says that it stands to reason that old families have done their 
part of work in past days, and can't have anything left in 'em now. 
There's the Billetts, and the Drenkhards, and the Greys and the St. 
Quint ins and the Hardys and the Goulds, who used to own the lands 
for miles down this valley ; you could buy 'em all up now for an old 
song a'most. Why, our little Betty Priddle here, you know, is one 
of the Paridelles the old family that used to own lots o' the lands 
out by King's -Hintock now owned by the Earl o' Wessex, afore even 
he or his was heared of. Well, Mr. Clare found this oat, and spoke 
quite scornful to the poor girl for days. " Ah ! " he says to her, 
" you'll never make a good dairymaid ! All your skill was used up 
ages ago in Palestine, and you must lie fallow for a thousand 
years to git strength for more deeds !" ' " 

THOMAS HABDY, 

Teas of the D' Urbervilles. 



VI 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 




THE great and famous Mr. John Durbeyfield, of 
Marlott, in the county of Dorset, was led to believe 
that his family reached " all back long before 
Oliver Grumble's time," even to the very days of " King 
Norman." I have heard the walls of Wareham ascribed to 
this same potentate, acting in collusion, apparently, with 
Queen Elizabeth and King Napoleon. Such is the deep, 
blurred impress of a great personality. 

It is beyond doubt that John Durbeyfield's singular 
boast of high lineage and low fall therefrom could be upheld 
no less justly by many Dorset peasant families. In the 
lowlier classes, and among the yeomanry above them, even 
more than in the higher ranks of to-day, names are found 
which go back, discontinuously, yet persistently, from 
generation to generation, from century to century, to the 
Conqueror's time. A few stretch yet further into the waste 

93 






94 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

of Saxon years. But that year of climacteric, 1066, is a 
real turning-point in English life. Duke William was the 
last great racial whirlwind to set in turmoil this troubled 
island. 

Yet conquest is always a relative thing. Except by sheer 
annihilation or expulsion, a conquered race is not blotted 
out. The language we speak to-day the language which 
can still be heard in strong and simple purity in the Dorset 
villages is English,* not French nor Scandinavian : 
the victims have passively conquered the victors. And even 
at the moment of conquest the invaders did not set up a 
completely new fabric of life. The towns of England, for 
the most part, were towns before the Normans came. The 
humbler folk lived on in their squalor and hardship, less 
free, politically, but in material circumstances not very 
differently placed. It was a chief concern of the Norman 
kings to assert that the laws and customs of England 
should be as they were in the time of King Edward the 
Confessor, in whose amiable and cultured half-Norman 
reign the Saxons were thus led to perceive the hitherto 
unrealized perfection of their own social order. 

The stir of this new governance of England, however, 
must have been tumultuous in detail. Even in the negative 
picture of Dorset's share in it the shadows of the great 
change can be discerned. 

So far as Dorset is directly concerned, after Hastings 
there is a brief darkness. Fifteen months later, Western 
England rose, and William, who " let his men always 
plunder all the country that they went over " marched to 
Devonshire and beset the city of Exeter. No doubt the 
non-combatant folk of Dorset then saw for the first time, 
in many a hamlet, what conquest meant. But there seems to 
be no definite groundf for Freeman's belief that the towns of 
Dorset (especially the four royal boroughs) banded themselves 

* Barnes pointed out that only the choice of London as capital instead 
of Winchester prevented it from being Dorset's English. 

t See Exton on the Dorset Domesday and Round's Domeeday Studies. 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 95 

together at the call of Exeter, and were ruthlessly despoiled. 
They were to suffer in time of peace. " Between the Con- 
quest and Domesday (1086) more than half the houses in 
Wareham and in Dorchester were utterly destroyed." And 
the majority are stated to have been destroyed " since the 
time of Fitz Grip " Hugh, son of Grip, a sinister figure 
who, with his wife, stands rather for the predatory than the 
civilizing aspect of the Norman Conquest.* 

The division of the spoils was not without significance. 
Thirty-six and a half parts of the county were taken by the 
King (who seized Harold's estates " by escheat ") ; one 
hundred and two belonged to Sarum and the monasteries ; 
ninety-eight to Earls, Barons, and the greater lords ; and 
only twenty-eight and a half to lesser men. Out of one 
hundred and twenty pre-Conquest landholders only twenty 
continued in possession. The English, however, were for 
the most part bound to the soil, not to the soil's lord ; 
they became in fact what the poorer of them had already 
tended to become immovable forced labourers paid in 
kind. The whole population of the county is estimated at 
about nine thousand. 

The Turbervilles of Wool and Bere Regis, the de Claviles 
(Clavells) of Smedmore, the Trenchards, the Martins, the 
Gollops of Strode, the Mohuns of Blackmore Vale, de 
Aquila of Wynford Eagle, and many another family rich 
and powerful in the generations to come, were among the 
newcomers, in William's reign or a little later. They were to 
hold their lands till the days of the nouveaux riches till the 
Wars of the Roses had worn them out and the Tudor 



* The wife of Hugh may perhaps have been the more voracious, but they 
both appear (with mysterious frequency) in Domesday as acquisitive. 
"To this manor (Abbotsbury) belongs one virgate of land which Hugh, 
son of Grip, unjustly took ; and his wife still holds it by force. This, in 
King Edward's time, was for the sustenance of the monks. . . . Hugh 
held this land of the Abbot of Abbotsbury, as his vassals say, but the 
Abbot denies it. ... With this manor (Winterbourne), the same Hugh 
holds one virgate of land unjustly, which belongs to William de Moione 
(Mohun). . . . Hugh gave this hide (at Orchard) to the Church of Cran- 
borne for his soul, it is worth twenty shillings. Put the wife (widow) of 
Hugh holds the half hide." 



96 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

tradesmen bought them up. The old names, as Hardy 
says, lasted on. There was a Norman Bonvile de Bredy 
(Bridport) : a prosperous garage at Bridport to-day is 
Bonfields. A Norman, de Moulham, was granted quarrying 
rights in Purbeck. It was a quarry man of Swanage who 
in the nineteenth century founded the great contracting 
firm of Mowlem. , 

To the peasant, perhaps, except for the severity of the 
forest laws, life under the new lords was not much more 
unpleasant than before. To the former free Saxon land- 
holders, if the chronicles are a true guide, the impression the 
conquerors gave was one of ruthless strength, of controlled 
and controlling force as well as of extrusion. As the Nor- 
man architecture was stronger and more spacious than the 
Saxon, though akin to it in essentials, so the Norman rule 
was stronger and more capacious than that which it succeeded 
and developed. 

There is to me a human quality in the majesty of Norman 
architecture, and conversely something impressive in the 
often crude humour of its details. The beautiful little 
Norman church at Studland still seems to breathe its 
builders' steady purpose. The leaden font at Wareham, 
the arches at Wareham and Whitchurch Canonicorum and 
Iwerne, the victorious horseman in Fordington porch, the 
grotesques on the pillars at Bere Regis, are evidences of a 
simple sincerity which was itself strength. And in the 
transition arches of Wimborne and Bere Regis (so alike 
that they might well be by the same architect) there is 
what almost appears to be a weakening into beauty. 

There is much of that architecture in the county. To me, 
apart from the places already named, there seems always to 
be something left of the Norman spirit, and, most of all, 
of the spirit of the Conqueror's great peace, in the country 
between Maiden Newton and Power stock. 

" Waleran himself holds Maiden Newton. Alward held it 
in King Edward's time, and it was taxed for six hides. 
There is land to seven ploughs. Of this there is half a hide 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 97 

in the demesne, and therein two ploughs and five bondmen : 
and seven villeins and fourteen bordars with five ploughs. 
Two mills pay twenty shillings : and there are eighteen 
acres of meadow. Pasture fourteen quarentons long, and 
seven quarentons broad. Wood five quarentons long, and 
three quarentons broad. It is worth ten pounds." 

So there were no free Englishmen in Maiden Newton in 
1085. Where was Alward ? Dead at Hastings ? Fled 
overseas as many Saxons are said to have fled ? Or had he 
become one of the villeins, working perhaps half the year 
for Waleran the Norman, and the rest of the year toiling 
for himself on the land to which he was bound ? Even so, 
he would be better off than the bordars, his own former 
underlings, who might swink three quarters of their lives 
for their conquerors. 

It is a long stretch from that abjectness, in which arose 
the fine Norman arch of Maiden Newton church, to the 
gild of bell-ringers whose rules and rhymes are to-day in 
the church tower. The coming of the Normans to some 
extent stabilized and strengthened the one agency in England 
which, whatever its faults in the direction of repression, 
gave men hope and beauty. This village church is full of the 
purposefulness of Holy Church herself. The Norman arch 
was part of a strong house of God. The double " squints " 
of two centuries later, cut through the Norman work, let 
more peasants approach Him than ever before. The fine 
Perpendicular porch, with its wonderful gargoyles, gave a 
new entrance into the invisible Church through the visible. 
The Faith is seen growing as the building and the people 
grow. 

There is only one mill at Maiden Newton now. But it 
has one of the comeliest mill-houses imaginable, lying on 
arches across the smooth Frome, whose waters, full of trout, 
tempt the back doors of half the village. If you follow that 
gracious stream you will come (but few know it) to another 
Norman arch, in the tiny little church of Frome Vauchurch, 
which might well join the company of claimants to the ex- 
H 



98 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

treme of smallness. With its early English work, its Norman 
font and door, its fine modern copy of a Dutch painting, its 
sense of confined intimacy, it seems almost to boast that 
there always have been and always will be two or three 
country folk gathered together in that same spot at hours 
of worship. 

There are two Fromes in Domesday, but it is not 
clear which is Frome Vauchurch, Frome St. Quintin, Frome 
Belet, or even Chilfrome. But " Alward held it in King 
Edward's time, and it was taxed for four hides." Alward 
again. . . . He held many lands in Dorset, and every one 
a Norman holds in Domesday. The Earl of Moreton* held 
this Frome, one Bretel holding a hide of it from him. 
Formerly the land was worth forty shillings : " now sixty 
shillings." Who created and who earned that increment in 
the rich pastures where now the lovely dairy farms of Notton 
and Cruxton lie ? Alward, or the Earl, or Bretel ? 

All round here the Normans were populous. At Wynf ord 
Eagle was that de Aquila whom Mr. Kipling has rightly 
placed at Pevensey also. At Toller (whether of the Brothers 
or of the Pigs is not clear : Pig Toller has a Jacobean manor- 
house, Brother Toller an alleged Roman but probably Saxon 
font). The Earl of Moreton held Toller also, and Drogo 
held it of him. " Almar held it in King Edward's time." 
But Waleran also held a Toller, and Olger held it from him. 

" Alward " he too held land in this Toller in King 

Edward's time. " It was worth three pounds : now four 
pounds." The same story. 

And it is the same story at the other Frome. William de 
Mohun held it, and Robert held it of him. " Alward held 
it in King Edward's time. ..." Three thanes also had held 
land there in King Edward's time, but two of William's 
vassals held their lands in the Domesday record. 

As you leave Maiden Newton behind and across the 
stream (where eels congregate and trouble the water), and 

* William's half-brother : "a man of crass and slow wits," according 
to Will '.i m of Malmesbury. 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 99 

climb the hill past the manor-house, you come into a deserted 
" forest " that can have changed little in the last thousand 
years. Pasture land lies on its fringes, where it slopes down 
to the many brooks. But the uplands are much as they were 
when King John hunted here : a waste of gorse, heather, 
broom, and bramble, aflame in due season with foxglove 
and loosestrife, yellow iris and scabious, filled with gigantic 
blackberries, the home of innumerable birds and rabbits. 
You will not meet a soul as you go along the bypath from 
one Toller to the other. There may be a few people in the 
straggling street of Toller Porcorum (Great Toller : great 
as compared with Little Toller, Toller Fratrum, where are 
but five or six houses). But as you go deviously back into 
the " forest " and climb towards Eggardon, the loneliness 
descends again, and a serene desolate beauty meets the eye 
on all sides. 

Even Eggardon fell into other hands under the Conqueror. 
William de Braose held the cultivated lands under the great 
hill, and Hunfrid held it from him, and there were six villeins 
there, instead of the five thanes of Edward's time. As you 
stand once more on the hill and look west, you face other near 
hamlets where the old order changed. William de Mohun 
held South Mapperton, with six bondsmen, six villeins, 
seven bordars. " Elmer held it in King Edward's time." 
Further on is Broadwindsor, under the same William : 
" Alward held it in King Edward's time." Mapperton itself 
was held by Ernulf de Hesding, instead of seven thanes : 
and he held likewise North Poorton, in place of other seven 
thanes (the Abbey of Tavistock held land there also, and at 
Askerswell). At Loders again was the Earl of Moreton, 
with lands that in Edward's time had belonged to Brihtric : 
and the wife of Hugh, son of Grip, held a hide there in place 
of two thanes. 

But there is a pageant of other things in Power stock, 
a village visible only from Eggardon, and hard to discover 
even to those who know the country. From the camp 
there are two secret lanes to it, high-hedged winding tracks 



100 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

such as lovers use. One of them goes past the station, 
where a beautiful golden cottage crouches under the embank- 
ment. Take the path in front of the cottage, cross the rails, 
and you will see a path leading into an orchard, a path of 
eternal peace. 

In the season of apple -blossom that path is the loveliest 
in the world. It winds among the trees, streams tinkling 
alongside, the rich grass consecrated to the calm horned 
sheep, a few golden cottages asleep by little footbridges. 
It is like that orchard of ecstasy in Virgil's eclogue : 

" Jam fragiles poteram a terra contingere ramos . . . 
Ut vidi, ut peril, ut me malus abstulit error ! " 

High above, on the right, is a steep hill. On top of it are 
mounds and trenches upon which you can look down from 
Eggardon. " Roger Arundel holds Poorstock, and Hugh 
holds of Roger. Ailmar held it in King Edward's time. . . . 
There are two ploughs and a half in the demesne, and five 
bondsmen : and two villeins and nine bordars with two 
ploughs and a half. Two mills pay three shillings. ... It 
was worth four pounds : now six pounds." Those mounds 
are all that are left of Roger Arundel's pride of power. 
He or one of his immediate successors built a towering 
motte-and-bailey castle there, to which in due time King 
John repaired when he came to hunt in the forest. Now 
the village children play on the grass-covered founda- 
tions. 

You have touched the Roman road on Celtic Eggardon : 
you have crossed to-day's railway, you have seen an outpost 
of monasticism at Toller Fratrum turned into a squire's 
manor-house, you see the broken Norman strength above 
your path. The track widens into a little open meadow, 
and the secret village lies before you, on a terrace, as it 
were a battlemented City of God, with its bright walls of 
golden stone, its roofs of thatch of paler gold, its gay gardens 
slipping down to the silver stream, and in the midst the yellow 
tower of the church. 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 101 

The church itself, on a platform covered with trim grass, 
is one of the most attractive in Dorset. It has a handsome 
Early English tower, and a porch. Inside the porch, 
over the door into the church proper, are niches wherein 
still stand golden images images not of gleaming metal, 
but of the gentler rich-hued stone of West Dorset. By some 
chance, like the more numerous sculptures at Beaminster, 
these figures have escaped the " slighter " : no Puritan 
Dowsing come to Poorstock to cast down idolatry. One or 
two other shapes are missing, but there remain two royal 
saints, and above them the Queen of Heaven bearing the 
infant Christ. Time and the generous stone have mingled 
to give the Virgin an exquisite grace and simplicity. She 
has stood there, I suppose (for the niches appear to be 
Perpendicular work), for four or five centuries, her form 
growing ever more tender, her mien more kindly, as the 
observances of faith, and perhaps faith itself, grew colder 
and more cold. " Books for the simple people," an inquisitor 
of Spain called images to a stout Protestant English prisoner 
with whom he was arguing. This book may still be 
read. 

Within the church are other memories. Once, clearly, 
there was a rood loft. There is a double " squint," and in a 
pillar or buttress between the tower arch and the south 
aisle a curious door-opening which now serves no purpose, 
leading nowhither, unnecessary. If these vestiges of 
architectural creation could be deciphered, and the minds of 
builders and the defacers known, we should, it may be, 
learn much of the English religious temper. Who thought 
it would be a good thing to have that little door, and to 
what did it give special access ? In what state was the rest 
of the church at the time ? Who consented, whose feelings 
were hurt by the innovation that is now so old ? Every 
church in England, almost, asks these riddles ; seldom 
are .there documents enough left even for a conjectural 
answer. 

Inside the tower is an old memorial slab, commonplace 



102 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

enough in its pathetic claim upon generations unborn, yet 
equally suggestive by reason of the things it cannot 
tell us : 

" Here lyeth the body of Thomas Larcombe of South 
Porton, desesed the 31 Day of August anno 1610 
(1670 ?) 

* All those that turne aside my tombe to see, 
Think of your end and warning take by me.' ' 

It is easy to read between the lines of pompous falsehood 
in an eighteenth-century epitaph, or to realize a life from the 
account of a soldier's death : but Thomas Larcombe has 
not even a character in the census of the dead. 

But the chief glory of this perfect little church, apart 
from the images, is the Norman chancel arch. It is very 
heavy, almost as if it had once supported a huge strain : 
and it is all askew not, it seems, from pressure, but because 
Roger Arundel's humble architect could not achieve the 
pure arch, and built, as his best, this lopsided curve that even 
mathematics could not name. It has four layers of decora- 
tions loops, spirals, chevrons, and leaves : all perfectly 
preserved. 

Bowed and twisted, yet beautiful in a strangely intimate 
way, this homely arch in a tiny parish church seems to 
speak like a sudden voice in a still place. Here is something 
of the Norman secret. We English, when William came, 
were no mean race. After the Roman peace, we had had 
six centuries of strife and hardship to make men of us : 
and yet these fierce kinsmen of the Dane could conquer us, 
and write our possessions in a book, and make our laws. 
We swallowed them up : English prevailed. But sometimes, 
as in an old legal phrase, or a piece of land tenure, or a few 
well-mortared walls, the masterful Norman lives again with 
startling clearness. Here in the stones of Poorstock church 
there is much later history written : but the Norman stands 
out, unique, plain, individual : a step in the succession, but 
not native to it. The ideals and the splendour of a race are 



THE CHRISTIAN CONQUERORS 103 

revealed ; and while here the castle, in its pride of strength, 
has perished, beauty and faith endure. 

Opposite the church is the inn, a place of good local 
cider.* It is the only modern building in the village the 
only unsimplicity. But the hearts of those who use it 
are simple. An old blind bob-tailed sheep-dog blundered in 
one day as I sat there : he stumbled against chairs. " Poor 
old dog," said the landlady ; "I want Dad to shoot 'un, 
but he won't. He says he can't lift his hand to a maimed 
thing like that." " You gi' I the gun, Mother," said an old 
labourer ; " I'll shoot 'un for 'ee." " It do seem hard," she 
continued, " life is sweet, we know that, but I wouldn't want 
to go on living if I went blind." " No : I'll shoot 'un for 
'ee. Life is sweet, so we do know, but I'd shoot mysen if 
I went blind " he looked out at the bright sunlight 
" after seeing that." 

Life is sweet, even to the hardest-worked class on earth ? 
Is that the faith that the Conquerors bequeathed to us ? 
Or did the people of England hold it even then ? 

* If you wish to injure the feelings of the kindly landlady, ask her if 
it is Netherbury cider Netherbury being a noted cider village a few miles 
away and hear her indignant reply. 



VII 

" O God of battles ! steel my soldiers' hearts ; 
Possess them not with fear ; take from them now 
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers 
Pluck their hearts from them. Not to-day, O Lord, 
O, not to-day, think not upon the fault 
My father made in compassing the crown ! 
I Richard's body have interred new ; 
And on it have bestowed more contrite tears 
Than from it issued forced drops of blood : 
Five hundred poor have I in yearly pay, 
Who twice a day their withered hands hold up 
Toward heaven, to pardon blood ; and I have built 
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests 
Sing still for Richard's soul." 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, 

The Life of King Henry the Fifth. 

A.D. 1137. . . . They had done him [Stephen] homage, and sworn oaths, 
but they no truth maintained. They were all forsworn, and forgetful 
of their troth ; for every rich man built his castles, which they held 
against him : and they filled the land full of castles. They cruelly 
oppressed the wretched men of the land with castle -works ; and when 
the castles were made, they filled them with devils and evil men. 
Then took they those whom they supposed to have any goods, both 
by night and by day, labouring men and women, and threw them into 
prison, for their gold and silver, and inflicted on them unutterable 
tortures ; for never were any martyrs so tortured as they were. . . . 
When the wretched men had no more to give, then they plundered 
and burned all the towns. . . . After a time, they spared neither 
church nor churchyard, but took all the goods that were therein, 
and then burned the church and all together." 

THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE. 

11 Indeed, it had been no error to say that this building was one that 
appealed to the imagination ; it did more it carried both imagina- 
tion and judgment by storm. It was an epic in stone and marble, 
and so powerful was the effect it produced on me, that as I beheld it 
I was charmed and melted. I felt more conscious of the existence 
of a remote past. One knows of this always, but the knowledge 
is never so living as in the actual presence of some witness to the life 
of bygone ages. I felt how short a space of human life was the period 
of our own existence. I was more impressed with my own littleness, 
and much more inclinable to believe that the people whose sense of 
the fitness of things was equal to the raising of so serene a handi- 
work, were hardly likely to be wrong in the conclusions they might 
come to upon any subject." 

SAMUEL BUTLER, 

Erewhon. 



VII 



THE GREAT ABBEYS AND THE AGE OF FAITH 




THE period between the Normans and the Tudors, 
from a purely historical point of view, is full of 
important details ; and historians look at those 
details with different aims. The older school saw most 
prominently the romantic flight of Matilda, the Crusades, 
the wars in France, the long War of the Roses. The stern 
political historians are interested in the relations of the 
sovereign to his nobles, the evolution of Parliament and the 
judicial system. The economist dwells on the Black Death, 
the Statutes of Labourers, the Peasants' Revolt ; while the 
modern religious historian laments to-day's loss of the rever- 
ence that built the great abbeys and beautified the many 
churches that now are seldom filled. 

This book would be too long if I were to attempt a con- 
tinuous chronicle of each of these four branches of progress 
(if progress there was), or to divide the Middle Age centuries 

107 



108 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

into more than one period. My reason for keeping them in 
one is that the Conquest ended one quite clear and separate 
chapter of English history, and the Dissolution of the 
Monasteries began another equally distinct and new : in 
between was constant and perplexing change. So I shall 
only string together a few typical events in the life of Dorset 
within those years before turning to some of their vestiges. 
And first of war. Wareham, the often-sacked, fared ill 
in the collapse of order which followed soon after the 
masterful hand of William was withdrawn by death. Bald- 
win de Redveis landed there in 1139 " with a full and strong 
host of soldiers," and went to Corfe. In 1142 Robert of 
Gloucester besieged and took Wareham castle, and " did 
other annoying things " ; but Stephen came and " ravaged 
cruelly with fire and sword, plundering and carrying off all 
he could lay hands upon." Four years later Prince Henry 
made it his port for escaping to France. And then there is 
comparative silence until John's fondness for Dorset made 
him discover the value of Corfe Castle. Here he imprisoned 
and let starve twenty-two noble knights of France ; and 
here too lay the wretched Peter of Pontefract : 

" Here's a prophet that I brought with me 
From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found 
With many hundreds treading on his heels ; 
To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhymes, 
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, 
Your highness should deliver up your crown." 

King John imprisoned him at Corfe ; and when the 
prophecy came true, the wretched man was drawn on a 
hurdle thence to Wareham, and back again, and hanged. 

The story of the twelfth century is almost a repetition of 
the grim record of the Saxon invasion. " At this time 
(1143) England was troubled in many diverse ways ; here 
sorely straitened by the King and his partisans, there 
suffering grievously from the Count of Gloucester ; ever and 
always commotion and desolation. Some, their love of the 
fatherland turned to bitterness, sought distant lands ; 



THE AGE OF FAITH 109 

others round the Churches, in the hope of sanctuary, built 
lowly huts, to lead a life of fear and misery. Food ran short 
(for famine spread terribly over all England), and some 
lived on the forbidden and unwonted food of horses and 
dogs, while others were driven to subsist on roots and grasses. 
Hosts died of want. Old and famous towns, all the in- 
habitants of every age and sex dead, lay desolate and empty.' 1 
" If ever upon the way one spied another, he feared and fled 
into a wood or other by-way." 

On the other hand, these centuries also saw events that 
are a faint prelude to Dorset's long connection with English 
sea power. By 1300 or so Wareham was declining from its 
position of one of the chief towns of the county ; but Poole 
and Wey mouth wei e rising. They were opposing forcibly 
the Cinque Ports' quasi-monopoly of English shipping. 

The next century produced the singular naval happening 
of Poole's private war, conducted by an almost fabulous 
hero. Arripay thus does a Spanish chronicler, as it were 
a Cockney, render the great name of Harry Page was a 
seaman of no common mould. In the naval warfare of 
Henry IV a mere matter of piracy and resolution, as a rule, 
but calling for a proud heart if it was adopted as a profession 
he harried Flanders and Brittany and Spain with address, 
pertinacity, and even fury. He was at first the lieutenant 
of the hardly less bellicose Lord Berkeley ; but he appears 
speedily to have become lustrous as an individual. Poole, 
said a gentleman of Spain, " belongs to a knight named 
Arripay, who scours the seas, as a corsair, with many ships, 
plundering all the Spanish and French vessels that he could 
meet with. This Arripay came often upon the coast of 
Castille, and carried away many ships and barks ; and he 
scoured the channel of Flanders so powerfully, that no 
vessel could pass that way without being taken. This 
Arripay burnt Gijon and Finisterra, and carried off the 
crucifix from Santa Maria de Finisterra, which was famous 
as being the holiest in all these parts (as in truth it was, 
for I have seen it), and much more damage he did in Castille, 



110 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

taking many prisoners, and exacting ransoms ; and though 
other armed ships were there from England likewise, he 
it was who came oftenest " (Sydenham, History of Pooh). 

The Dons liked him so little that, upon opportunity, they 
paid a special visit to Poole, and slew Arripay's brother ; 
but they were forced to retreat. In token also of their 
opinion of Page, they on this occasion suspended for the 
time being whatever of international law was then operative 
that a Christian soldier was not to murder prisoners, nor 
injure refugees, nor rob churches, nor burn houses or crops, 
nor do violence to women : " these rules Pedro Nino ordered 
to be observed everywhere, except in Arripay's country, 
because he had burnt houses in Castile." 

There is not much information of a definite kind about the 
Dorset seafarers of this period, except for that vivid little 
chapter of truculence. Inference from a few recorded facts, 
however, shows living and active continuity. John ordered 
rope in a hurry from Bridport in 1213. He and other kings 
demanded ships for the French and Scottish wars. Lyme 
(its Cobb, built in Edward I's reign, a wonder to all, and its 
standing enhanced by his charter of 1284), Weymouth and 
Melcombe, Poole and Wareham furnished vessels from time 
to time, just as the abbeys and landowners furnished land 
service and gave hospitality to the King's horses, men, and 
prisoners. There were raids and counter-raids from France 
and Spain and even visits from Barbary pirates. A system 
of beacons a natural anticipation of 1805 and 1914 was 
set up to guard against invasion. 

In the midst of the foreign and domestic tumult kings 
came to and fro. The strategy of castles bade them keep 
a watchful eye on all parts of their kingdom, and Dorset 
was still something of a sea-gateway from France and Spain 
to the West and Middle -West of England. There were 
castles at Corfe, Portland, Lulworth, Sherborne, Wareham, 
Powerstock, and possibly three or four others of less im- 
portance. The King constantly addressed to his Dorset 
officers and subjects open letters letters patent of favour, 



THE AGE OF FAITH 111 

of armistice, of protection : " The King to all his bailiffs 
and faithful subjects, greeting . . . know ye that we have 
taken under our safe conduct " some fortunate person who 
could produce this document. Often enough he warned the 
guardians of his coasts to be watchful and responsible, or 
ordered his bailiffs " to select immediately the best and 
strongest men of your ports, and those who are well armed, 
to man our vessels, at our cost and for our service." 

John visited the county with some frequency. He 
afforested* the whole of Purbeck wrongfully, so the monks 
of Cerne claimed : they owned rights in the isle, already 
mentioned. In almost every year from 1204 to the end of 
his reign he lay a night or two at some Dorset manor or 
castle Dorchester, Bridport, Gillingham (the ruins of his 
house there are but green mounds), Powerstock, Corfe, 
Bere Regis, Sherborne, Cranborne, and other places all 
saw him : Corfe and Gillingham most often. Powerstock 
Castle was either rebuilt or reinforced : there is an entry 
of 104 spent on it, and of 100,000 nails brought thither for 
the work. There is, too, a suggestive entry in the Patent 
Rolls about Corfe : 

" Teste 11 July, at Corfe. Know, that we received at 
Corfe on Tuesday, the Translation of St. Benedict, in the 
18th year of our reign, from the hands of Agatha Trussebut, 
wife of William de Albeny, and her chaplain William, 
500 marks for the ransom of this said William de Albeny." 

Poor Agatha ; and poor tenants of Agatha and William ! 

Edward I was another frequent visitor to much the same 
places as John, except that he seemed to be specially fond 
of Bindon Abbey, which William of Newburgh had re- 
founded in 1 1 72. Piers Gaveston was thought to be a refugee 
in the county in 1311, and Edward II was imprisoned at 
Corfe before he was removed to his murder at Berkeley 
Castle ; while Margaret of Anjou, befriended by Cardinal 
Moreton of Bere a former monk of Cerne rested at Cerne 

* Put under the Forest Laws : not planted trees. 



112 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

on one of her vain attempts to secure the crown for 
her son. 

The Dorset abbots and friars who took so large a share 
in the public life of the country, in service to the King, in 
education and in improving the land, have left, thanks to the 
Dissolution and the passing of the monastic buildings into 
the hands of Henry VIII 's favourites, few visible remains 
of their greatness, except in three glorious buildings still in 
use Wimborne Minster, Sherborne Abbey, and Milton 
Abbey. Wimborne a royal chapel and college of secular 
canons contains not only Norman and Transition work, 
but an Early English east window of great beauty, and the 
grave of Athelstan. Milton has some splendour of the 
Decorated period, and keeps a little of the gay hues that once 
made the great churches a marvel of rich colour : while 
the fan-tracery of Sherborne is an unsurpassed glory. 

Cerne like Abbotsbury, Sherborne, and Milton, a 
Benedictine house is but a fragment : Abbotsbury, save 
for the noble barn, little more : Shaft esbury not as much : 
while Bindon, a Cistercian foundation, is the most pathetic 
forlorn ghost of grave beauty imaginable. Of it Mr. Moule, 
the Dorchester antiquarian, wrote feelingly : " You cannot 
wall in the free heart : you cannot wall out the world ; but 
the place where the effort was made is no common ground." 
It suffered a curious irony in its death. It was dissolved 
among the smaller monasteries in 1536, refounded by 
Henry VIII himself in 1537, and again dissolved in 
1539. 

The priories, minor houses, and hospitals there were 
many lazar houses have almost entirely vanished. 

We can, however, guess at a little of the local vigour 
and sincerity of that life when religion was real and vital 
to conduct as well as to salvation. Much of the beauty of 
Sherborne is due to a desperately earnest quarrel. The 
people of the place in 1436 had a bitter dispute with the 
monks about the position of the font and their own entry 
into the church. They came to blows, a riot ensued, and the 




CERNE ABBEY GATEWAY 
Engraved from a drawing by J. W. Upham 



THE AGE OF FAITH 113 

old fabric was very seriously damaged by fire : the rebuild- 
ing gave us much of to-day's loveliness. 

That was a case of religious ardour. On the other hand, 
the abbot of Abbotsbury of a century or so before, Walter de 
Stokes, behaved like the traditional predatory abbot of 
fiction, and a long enquiry into his conduct would probably 
have ended in scandal but for his death.* 

Of the glories of Shaftesbury I have already spoken. In 
contrast to that world- wide fame is the gentle seclusion of 
the Cistercian nuns at Tan ant Keynes, to whom a famous 
treatise in Middle English was probably addressed the 
Ancren Riwle, or Anchoresses' Handbook, said to have been 
composed for them about 1200 by Richard Poore, Bishop of 
Salisbury. The Abbey was but a little house : at the 
surrender in 1539 it contained an abbess and eighteen nuns. 
When the Riwle was written, it was the refuge of three 
sisters of gentle birth, with lay sisters and servants. Among 
the reasons why they fled the world the writer gives these : 

" It is a proof of nobleness and liberality. Noblemen and 
gentlemen do not carry packs, nor go about trussed with 
bundles, nor with purses. It belongs to beggars to bear bag 
on back, and to burgesses to bear purses, and not to God's 
spouse, who is the Lady of Heaven. Bundles, purses, bags, 
and packs are all earthly wealth and worldly revenues. . . . 
Ye take no thought for food or clothing, neither for your- 
selves nor for your maidens. Each of you hath from one 
friend all that she requireth ; nor need that maiden seek 
either bread, or that which is eaten with bread, further than 
at his hall. . . . The sorcerer would fain with flattery render 
you perverse, if ye were less gentle and docile. There is 
much talk of you, how gentle women you are ; for your 

* The last abbot also is alleged to have given offence, according to a 
document quoted by Hutchins : " Whereas the Abbot taketh to his own 
use and hath made great waste of wood sales wrongfully sold from his 
brothers and their tenants, and also hath sent out of the treasury certain 
jewels more than half (whereas we cannot judge the true value of the same) 
and hath sold it. . . . He hath an abominable rule with keeping of women, 
not with i, ii, or iii, but with many more than I do write of, and also no 
religion he keepeth nor by day neither by night." Not proven, says the 
Victoria County History, in effect. 



114 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

goodness and nobility of mind beloved of many ; and sisters 
of one father and one mother ; having, in the bloom of 
your youth, forsaken all the pleasures of the world and 
become anchoresses."* 

All their daily customs, religious and lay alike, were 
expounded to them in this generous-minded homily ; how 
they were not to be liberal with other people's alms ; not 
to buy nor sell ("a buyer and seller selleth her soul to the 
chapman of hell ") ; not to use too harsh a discipline of 
their bodies ; to have blood let four times a year (thereafter 
resting : " talk with your maidens, and divert yourselves 
together with instructive tales ") ; and " ye shall not possess 
any beast, dear sisters, except only a cat." 

That fine piece of South-Western dialect English gives 
some hint of what was coming to pass in England. The nation 
was becoming English, and so was its language. The 
peasants saw the world in the great wars : they learnt at 
Agincourt and Cregy their own strength. The men of Dorset 
fought on St. Crispin's day under their own banner of a 
silver tower on a red ground. They had come gradually to 
be part of an organism not merely local, their terms of 
service secured by national, not local justice. But until the 
long wars brought their inevitable penalties on Europe, 
the English peasant had no real chance of freedom. It 
was in Dorset, through the seaport intercourse with France 
and the Channel Islands, that the greatest economic change 
of this long period commenced. The Black Death broke out 
at Melcombe Esgis in 1348. Within three years " the 
inhabitants remaining are not sufficiently numerous to 
protect (the coast) against our foreign enemies." j* 

It was upon the poor, living in squalor, that the plague 
fell most heavily. But it had its compensations. In a 
short time, instead of being bound ineluctably to forced 
toil, the peasants, through the reduction in their numbers, 
could sell their labour at a high price, and employers had to 
compete for it, and did compete for it, in spite of the 

* Camden Society's translation. f Gasquet, The Black Death. 



THE AGE OF FAITH 115 

successive Statutes of Labourers which tried to fix the con- 
ditions.* The wages system had arrived, though with 
many local variations and survivals of the old tenures and 
compulsions. And one result of this weakening of com- 
pulsion was that within two or three generations English 
was perforce the common language of all classes. 

Whether the wages system made for the real happiness 
of the poorest labourers, or not, can be better judged when 
we come to the revolts of five centuries later. A hundred 
small hardships and injustices, not easily remedied when all 
the real force was in the hands of those who wore armour, 
embittered the relations between the villagers and the lords ; 
and in 1381 the Peasants' Revolt flamed out. It was easily 
put down, after a dangerous but sporadic success. Dorset 
seems to have taken no great part in it, unless a reported 
local increase of crime is an outer ripple of the whirlpool. 

It is in walking through a tract of deserted churches and 
lonely villages, it seems to me, that something of the multi- 
farious, excitable life of this time (Chaucer's pilgrims were 
always at the zenith of their personalities) can be recaptured. 
Start again at Maiden Newton, from what was once the 
revered village cross : it is now a centre of children's 
games and a leaning-post for those who await the opening 
of licensed houses. Hither came the Abbot of Milton's 
corn to market, borne by his forced labourers ; and Cerne 
Abbey held a third of the manor. Go past the station by 
the white track, steeply uphill. Near the top cross the 
fields to the left : you will walk over a British village : if 
haply you have a dog, he will go down to the annals of 
innumerable rabbits as a sudden piratical raid which caused 
great terror. A little further west, you cross the Roman 
road from Dorchester to Ilchester, a lovely grass-grown 
straight track filled with eternal peace. Down a path 

* Some striking but not always exact parallels may be found between 
these Statutes (and their intentions) and the arguments in use at the 
present moment in regard to the deceased Agricultural Wages Board. 
Prof. Oman, in his standard work, makes a quotation from Piers Plowman 
about the greedy labourers which might come from a retrograde farmer 
to-day. 



116 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

westwards which hardly exists,* you come to an odd hedged 
lane leading nowhere, with a private walk alongside : some 
vanished or disused idea never fully carried out : and so to 
Sydling St. Nicholas, where are a fine Tudor barn and a 
sturdy church and as many Georgian houses, deliciously 
spaced, as could well be desired ; and streams and ducks all 
down the wide pretty street. 

The church itself is curiously impressive in its historical 
gaps. It is an immensely strong building, shored up by 
very heavy buttresses, and mostly Perpendicular in style. 
It has large grotesque gargoyles, a fine tower and inside, 
a number of monuments to eighteenth and early nineteenth 
century London aldermen and their families. On the tithe 
barn are cut the initials of the wife of Elizabeth's Secretary, 
Walsingham, who held the manor from Winchester College. 
Imagination tends to dwell on what is not there, rather than 
on what is. The village is so neat, so quiet, so primevally 
domestic, that there ought to be visible evidence of the 
period when the church was first built. 

Sydling may well claim to be one of the half- dozen most 
beautiful villages in Dorsetf or even in England. It lies 
in a deep valley in the chalk, well watered, full of sheep. 
North there is a noble walk to the main ridge. But the way 
now lies past a well, where it is good to sit and hear running 
water, and over the high hills again. And as at last you 
descend, you see on a hill opposite the Cerne Giant. 

When I last sat on the slope and looked at the Giant, I 
felt myself back in a scene of a year before. I was then 
in the Town Hall at Dorchester. It was full, quite full, of 
farmers, with a sprinkling of gentry and humbler folk, and 
a few obvious agents : a gathering huge by the side of the 
coteries of Sotheby's or Christie's. I had in my hand a 
monstrous fine folio book about Cerne, which the auctioneers 

* Across the Roman road, immediately opposite your track : close along 
a hedge which must be kept on the right. 

t Other claimants in Dorset are Corfe Castle (without recent additions), 
Affpuddle, Burton Bradstock, Rampisham, Chideock (except the inn and a 
building opposite), and Milton Abbas, and Hammoon, and Okeford 
Fitzpaine, and but this is becoming a gazetteer. 



THE AGE OF FAITH 117 

had bestowed upon me for nothing. An austere man with 
a little white pointed beard and a monotonous voice was 
saying, " Any advance on 700 ? 750. Any advance on 
750 ? Going at 750 . . . going. . . . Gone at 750. Mr. X. 
Bought by the tenant." There was hardly even an inflexion 
in his colourless voice as he asked " any advance ? " But 
in the audience there was a subdued undercurrent of feeling 
which could not be mistaken : it broke out in cheers when 
a tenant bid successfully. 

For a whole village was changing hands. I had been into 
some of the cottages a few days before. There were holes 
in almost every ceiling : most of the walls were perishing : 
slugs of the Giant's kin were in many rooms they were 
exhibited with a kind of pride. The Abbey Farm was shut 
and deserted :* the lovely orchard behind it many feet deep 
in grass and nettles, the little fabric of beauty in the old 
gateway and the oriel window in the barn losing its mortar 
and drawing still nearer to final decay. 

If Goldsmith wanted to write a new Deserted Village, or 
W. H. Hudson an even more sombre Shepherd's Life, Cerne 
Abbas might be the inspiration. The wide street is always 
empty, save when charabancs vomit incongruous crowds. 
There seems to be hardly even the ordinary tiny activity 
of a general shop though there are several shops, in point 
of fact. I doubt if a man could get drunk in the inns : they 
are too desolate. If anyone lives in the two or three comely 
private houses, it must surely be some aloof Mrs. Sparsit. 
Even on the streams of the village, to which I was told 
(my informant wearing an air of shy half -credulity) the 
Giant came down to drink at nights, there are few ducks, and 
those meagrely loquacious. 

The church is a beautiful skeleton. Outside it has little 
flying pinnacles of a lovely design, in yellow stone, niches 
with some saints still inhabitant, a fine tall tower. Inside 

* I should like to say here that the present tenant of the farm, who is 
working strenuously with his own hands to repair the property, very 
rightly resents wholesale intrusion on his orchard and field. The Gateway 
ruin can be seen by decent people who ask decently and behave decently. 



118 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

it is as frigid as a neglected museum. There were at one 
time recently no less than three fonts in it : one venerable, 
of the Middle Age (so simple in design as to have no marked 
characteristic) ; one modern, of which the less said the better, 
for it is ugly ; and one delightful absurdity of the Georgian 
era a sort of small hand-basin on a leg, composed of wood 
or some composition painted to look like marble. As at 
Batcombe, there is a stone rood-screen. As at Abbotsbury, 
there is a good seventeenth-century pulpit. There is a decent 
pompous wooden screen, also, at the west end of the nave. 
The Perpendicular east window is remarkably large. The 
church is a spacious building. 

One of its exhibits (I must use the word : the church does 
not " show off," but it is not instinct with any reality) is a 
stone coffin. There are plenty of others in Dorset. But I 
cannot quite conceive the mind which thus preserves a 
void grave, out of its designed place, and insignificant, in 
an edifice dedicated to public worship. It can hardly be 
doubted that some successor of ^Elfric, some abbot or high 
officer of Cerne Abbey, lay in this massive bed : dead, in the 
faith of Christ. We know that stone was used for coffins, 
and we know (at least, we are always told so) that churches 
are places of worship, not museums. We should inspect 
empty stone coffins, therefore, as exhibits, in a real museum : 
not at the spot where their vanished tenants were once 
buried with the rites of Holy Church. Would any vicar, any 
parishioner, prop up to-day against a wall, for a show, the 
empty oak box that recently held his grandfather's decaying 
flesh and bones ? Antiquity is no defence. What do a few 
centuries matter to the principle ? It might be argued that 
the remains of the pious dead, or their relics, should abide 
at or near the place where they were committed to the mercy 
of God. But their mortal bodies, in such cases as this, are 
not there to await the resurrection. The " sad and solemn 
priests " sing no longer for their souls. The tomb or chantry 
of a dead man, his perpetual ornament, a piece of architecture, 
remains rightly part of the church in which he worshipped, 



THE AGE OF FAITH 119 

was buried or commemorated. But here the empty re- 
ceptacle of his person is made a show. 

I think the most human thing in Cerne church is one of 
its two or three interesting epitaphs. " Here lies the body 
of Robert White, who died Jan. 6th, 1753, aged 46 : having 
been upwards of 20 years in Antigua in South America, 
and returning home with a good character, which is well 
known by the best sort of people in that island." The exile 
from the little village, with a good character vouched for by 
the best people ... I am sure his character was truly good. 

Yet life here must have been real once. Consider the 
legend of the name Cerne Abbas. You will find (if you go 
about it in the right way), near the gate-house of the 
old Abbey and the orchard, a well St. Austin's or St. 
Augustine's well. A stone step of its superstructure, in 
Hutchin's time, bore five Latin words " Of Thomas Corton 
thirty-fourth abbot." Corton was the last Abbot of Cerne. 
He preserved a continuity which by tradition went back to 
him after whom the well is named. St. Augustine is said 
to have come hither and to have been mocked by the 
inhabitants. They tied fishes' tails (some say the tails of 
cows) to the skirts of himself and his followers and drove 
them out. But the saint immediately in a vision saw their 
destiny, and called out, in a loud voice, " I see God (cerno 
Deum), Who will pour into them a better spirit." The men 
of Cerne in a short time repented and asked him for forgive- 
ness and begged him to return. Cerne is the place of the 
vision of God. 

There arc other explanations, not less credible, of the 
founding of the Abbey. It is probably at least a ninth - 
century creation. It owned many manors. To-day there 
are left of it some stones in the dead village, many in the 
fine Abbey Farm, an oriel in one of the farm buildings, and 
the lovely gate-house. But like Bindon Abbey, it holds the 
soul of man. When at one time before the farm was re- 
occupied I went through its empty deep-grassed orchard, 
saw the ever-running well-stream, the dim green lines 



120 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

behind the Gate-house which showed where once the 
structure of beauty and worship had confronted the world, 
the place seemed populous with futile, baffled ghosts. It 
was a little house, maybe, as abbeys go. 

The Giant " ithyphallic and clavigerous " may have 
watched with a cynical eye many generations of peasants, 
and a few great men. He saw if the explanations of him 
are true he saw the Romans on the hills near him, and the 
Celt driving the Iberian out of the dens that mottle the 
green turf still. He saw Brichtuin holding the land in the 
Confessor's time, and under William : and no more than the 
Giant was Brichtuin allowed to " depart from the land." 
He saw the monks at work upon their famous Book and 
Cartulary. Even when there was a fanatical Protestant 
or a no less fanatical malignant swaying the village, humble 
lovers must still have looked with a curious wonder upon his 
shameful form. The coaches of the turnpike era let inquisitive 
passengers ask questions about him. The smugglers ex- 
changed their goods in his secret mart : and if he had not 
preferred the village streams, so numerous and pretty, the 
Giant might here have quenched his thirst with " a beer 
superior perhaps to any liquor of the kind ever known ": 
so its fame ran of old. 

From Cerne go up over Black Hill to Piddle trenthide, 
by a lovely road giving wonderful views. Piddletrenthide 
is a long village of pleasant houses and cottages. In its 
church, more beautiful without than within, is a modern 
window showing a figure of a man in khaki the earliest 
I have seen to perpetuate thus the Great War. I wonder 
why (colour apart) the uniform looks so ignoble by that of 
the saints and other warriors in the same window ? Is it 
the humbug of ancientry that makes armour seem more 
beautiful ? It was a clumsy garment at best. 

Follow still the byroad, due south. You will come shortly 
to the straggling village of Piddlehinton. The church here 
has that curious thing, a palimpsest brass or rather, one 
which has been used on both sides. There is also a remark- 



THE AGE OF FAITH 121 

able brass of a vicar with a walking-stick : he is Thomas 
Browne, " parson of this place seven and twenty years," 
who died in 1617. The registers of the church contain much 
interesting matter which has not been published : how 
stranded sailors (so far inland) were relieved, how a grocer 
of London whose house had been burnt was given a small 
dole, and the like. Oddly enough, I met that grocer long 
ago at Oxford : it was exactly the same yarn. 

From here the road curves south-east to Piddletown. 
And here the church again is to be venerated. It contains 
all the life of England, and that not, in its atmosphere of 
preservation, in the manner of a dead survival. The font 
is Saxon or possibly Norman, with a fine interlacing design. 
It stands under a seventeenth-century gallery, from whose 
floor depend canvas buckets of 1805, the property of a 
Bath insurance company. The east end has been altered ; 
but the roof is good. There is the greater part of a carved 
three-decker pulpit. And if you go through the Martin 
chapel, in the south aisle, into the vestry, you will find the 
flutes of the village choir of a generation ago. 

The Martin or Athelhampton chapel is a glory of the 
county. Here are buried knights and ladies of that notable 
family, the colour still rich on some of their tombs, the 
supine figures still little harmed by the slighter. " Pray 
for their souls," one inscription bids us, " with hearty 
desire, that they both may be sure of eternal light." 

This little homely chapel holds some of the last enchant- 
ments of the knightly years. It is impossible here not to 
believe that the Faith was real. Those who wrought the 
Purbeck stone into shapes so enduringly gracious, those who 
touched them with gay blue and red, those who engraved so 
carefully, with so sure a sense of proportion, the strong 
brass, had some quality few possess to-day. I think the last 
of the Martins preserves it in an epitaph of 1595 now lost 
(recorded by Hutchins) : " Nicholas ye first, and Martin 
ye last. Good night, Nicholas." A long night, whose dawn 
may never break. 



122 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Piddletown church, it also seems to me, is one where 
the past and the present veritably overlap from day to 
day, even to our own time, and are not cut off, shut apart, 
one from another. Its simplicity and its beauty have always 
belonged to this one village, grown with it, formed part of 
its people's lives. Here, more certainly than in any glorious 
abbey or cathedral, the Word of God might remain flesh. 

From Piddletown follow byroads or paths, which the map 
shows adequately, to the three divine villages hidden a 
little way from the main road three river hamlets, Aff- 
piddle, Turner's and Brian's Piddle. You can, if you 
prefer, go along the main road to Tolpiddle and turn off 
there. You will see a handsome church, the " martyrs' 
tree," and a monument to those martyrs, of whom I speak 
later (see Chap. XIII). 

Affpiddle has a very handsome church very beautifully 
situated. It was built, probably, at any rate so far as the 
tower goes, by the same monk-artist who designed the tower 
at Cerne. It has the same lovely little flying pinnacles, 
the same lofty grace. The interior contains splendid wood- 
work a pulpit and a number of carved pew-ends also 
by a Cerne monk : one of the pew-ends and the pulpit are 
dated 1547. 

The village is pure Dorset : low thatched cottages of 
yellow mud and plaster, with a little wood and stone : 
jasmine and fuchsia and veronica creeping shaggily round 
the windows and doors : unexpected little streams and 
patches of grass. A few years ago it was more beautiful 
than encouraging : for the cottages were in grievous dis- 
repair, the mud walls often gaping or falling, the timber 
rotting in the damp valley air. But Mr. Debenham has done 
wonders of restoration of late, and has added, to the ex- 
cellence of model farming, a striking new farm-cottage 
architecture which deserves to live alongside the old. 

Bryant's Piddle the Piddle manor of Brian de Turber- 
ville is much the same as Affpiddle, but smaller. The 



THE AGE OF FAITH 123 

last of these three villages is the most exquisite. Toner's 
(Turner's) Piddle was once the manor of the Toneres, or 
de Toneres, Norman lords of whom little is known : they 
rendered service to the crown of Edward I, and that is 
about all their history. If their lives were as retired and 
obscure as their record, they can have chosen no more 
satisfying place of retreat than this tiny hamlet. To-day 
it consists of a little gracious farmhouse, two or three 
cottages, and a toy church, so small and compact and neat 
that it should hardly be more than a cathedral for Lilliput. 
Small though it is, it yet contains a Norman font a last 
relic of departed strength. 

There is no Norman air about Toner's Piddle. It is just 
a little farm set in rich deep water meadows below the huge 
brown heath which breaks out immediately behind the 
barton. It is in a place of streams, a maze of fords and foot- 
bridges : bright with yellow iris and meadowsweet, willow- 
herb and loosestrife, a haunt of moorhens and herons.* 

Take the sandy path alongside the farm, up the hill. 
You will come out on one of the noblest stretches of 
" Egdon " Heath. From its height Corfe Castle can be 
seen guarding its gap, Pur beck keeping back the sea, the 
chimneys of the secret war -factory at Holton Heath, and 
of the pottery works not far away : between you and the 
horizon the grim brown waste undulates in big and little 
hollows, a few firs here and there, a copse in a valley, the 
light ever changing. 

That is the best way to come to Bere Regis : most of all 
if you can contrive to reach your end about dusk. You 
come from the mysterious glooms of the Heath down into 
a little leaf-hedged path, past a modern cemetery whose 
stones in the crepuscular half-light are white ghosts ; over 
a little bridge where all day long you can watch the fat voles 

* I think the most startling event in Nature is the sudden unexpected 
uprising of a heron a foot or two away from one. The enormous spread 
of wing, the first heavy uplift, the long clattering beak, all seem exaggerated, 
as if the thing were a pterodactyl. So my dog thought on his first putting a 
heron up at Turner's Piddle, for he ran away for dear life. 



124 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

at play, or washing their comfortable persons. And so to 
the imminent church standing up, from there by the bridge, 
like a glorious cathedral, hanging over the stream and the 
few cottages by its side with a dominance of both power 
and beauty. 

The tower is finely decorated : the body of the church 
has excellent gargoyles. But it is the windows which, 
if you come from without when they are lit up from within, 
will stab your imagination. At the east end the light shines 
through three beautiful Early English lancets (inside they 
are framed in slender dark Purbeck columns). On the 
south wall the Turberville arms glow in the many panels 
of a perfect window in the Perpendicular style. At the east 
end of that aisle is a glorious little flowing Decorated frame- 
work ; an easy, sinuous rhythm in stone that the light 
transforms into a flower. 

There is the whole peace of humanity here. Here, among 
the works of men, as amid the work of God on Eggardon 
Hill, I can find the ultimate rest. There is nothing in the 
church itself which does not suggest a permanent ideal of 
life. The Turberville aisle has those Decorated and other 
empty tombs where once poor Tess took refuge. The old 
local ironwork in the squint has a peculiar homely beauty. 
The Tudor squire and his wife in the chancel ought to be 
buried there : it is theirs. The " puzzle " brass, in some 
sort of dog English-Latin, is a proper idiosyncrasy of a 
little secluded civilization. The pages from the records 
(showing the authentic Turberville signature), the old and 
lovely font, the late Norman arches, the grotesque faces upon 
them, the ancient local tiles and woodwork, the myriad 
pottery vases for to-day's floral services there is a chain of 
life more continuous here than even at Piddletown. 

The roof is the wonder of the place. It was brought from 
Flanders by Cardinal Moreton, it is said. It is a noble 
arrangement of beams from whose every end juts out a 
gaily painted figure severely humorous like the Norman 
faces in the arches below. The central boss said tradition- 



THE AGE OF FAITH 125 

ally to represent John the Baptist carries a vast round 
bearded face, like a Cruikshank illustration to " Jack the 
Giant Killer." They keep the colours fresh. The roof 
remains eternally young, eternally real : witnessing to the 
simple sincerity of a faith that was confident enough to 
laugh at itself ; witnessing to a temper of mind that was 
not too self-conscious to mind ridicule if it were in 
earnest. 

When I was last in the church, during the war, the altar 
bore no flowers ; instead, there were set up small flags of 
all the Allies Japan, Serbia, the United States, France, 
and all of us. I was reminded by them of a war-time scene 
a friend had described to me. 

It took place at the cross-roads at Bere. My friend was 
staying at the admirable inn there in the summer of 1915, 
to complete some work and recover his health. He heard 
the usual noise of passers-by, farm-carts, motors : but it was 
suddenly broken, in the late afternoon, by a more tumultuous 
sound. After a time he looked out. A flushed woman of 
thirty or so, once very pretty and still not wholly unbeautif ul, 
was leaning against a cottage wall opposite. Round her, 
at some distance, were the louts of the village. They were 
all arguing angrily. The woman obviously of a certain 
profession, a " leaguer-wench," and rather drunk was 
taunting them for not going to the front. In that respect, 
they were good lads : they had tried, and had been for- 
bidden ; farm-labour was too precious. Many of their 
friends had gone and fallen ; they themselves were to be 
scraped off the hungry land later. They, on the other hand, 
starting by jeering at her drunkenness, had come to inflame 
their jeers with anger at her profession, which they soon 
guessed. They would not leave her alone. She was afraid 
to turn her back and go on. Their numbers increased, 
until perhaps a couple of hundred people men had now 
joined the group stood in a menacing circle round her. 
No one yet offered active violence, but the temper of the 
crowd was clearly ugly. My friend went out and spoke to 



126 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

the seeming chief man there. He got nothing but angry 
words. He spoke to the woman ; she said, sobbing in a 
horrible drunken way, " I daren't turn my back on them 
they'll stone me." She was now pretty nearly sober and 
ready to moderate her bitter tongue : but he felt her words 
were true. He turned and talked savagely to the crowd at 
large ; a mistake, for their anger was not abated by shame. 
Then he tried persuasion. He spoke to the senior men 
quietly and said he would take the woman himself to the 
constable's house three-quarters of a mile away if they 
would keep the crowd in order. They agreed, and he told 
the crowd what he meant to do, saying that it was the 
right way to deal with such a person. Then the wretched 
woman was induced to cling to his arm and turn her back 
and he turned his, not without genuine fear and they 
went off on the long street, the crowd following ten yards 
or so behind, watching, it seemed, for a moment's lapse or 
weakness. Several times the woman broke down and 
refused to go any farther, and he had to prevent her reviling 
the people incoherently ; often there were sinister cries 
of opprobrium behind his back ; until at last they came to 
the constable's cottage, and gave the poor wretch to his 
kind wife for a night's lodging. She was following the camp 
from Weymouth to Blandford : she could not have walked 
another mile. 

It was not her profession, nor the precise exchange of 
taunts, that interested my friend. It was the fear he himself 
felt, " in his bones," of the crowd. It seemed like a recrudes- 
cence of mediaeval horror of witch-hunting, heresy-hunt- 
ing, torture, all the animal ferocity of man let loose. 
There was a force here that the modern mind might not 
be able to tame : a morality (resentful and perverted, 
doubtless) that would stick at nothing. He had been lately 
in that calm and beautiful church, where all the ages, even 
to-day's, seem to be in happy communion. Here in the twilit 
village street, with the rough threatening pleasantries, the 
hysterical woman's sobs, in his ears, he seemed to have 



THE AGE OF FAITH 127 

reached a dreadful continuity of evil in man ; or not so 
much of evil as of cruel faith in an unreal good. 

They burnt a woman in Dorchester in 1706. They 
ducked scolds there in 1630. They branded a woman in 
London in 1751. In my own life-time, not a quarter of a 
century ago, I have heard " rough music " administered, 
and the skimmity -riding of " The Mayor of Caster bridge " 
is only just obsolete. I have seen an otherwise humane 
fisherman in the last year or so set his dog to worry live 
crabs, and laugh hilariously when a claw or leg was tugged 
off. Perhaps eternal beauty needs that face-to-face know- 
ledge of beastliness. " God of battles, steel my soldiers' 
hearts. 



VIII 

" In this channel under a marblo stone doe lye the bodies of Francis 
Chaldecot Esq., and Edith his wife, younger daut r . and coheire of 
William Chaldecot of Quarrellston, in Dorset, esq., who were liberal con- 
stant housekeepers ; bountiful releivers of the poore ; carefull breeders 
of their children in piety and. vertue ; diligent and devout comers to 
the church, though it were very painfull unto them in their latter 
times, by means of age and other infirmity : 53 yeares and upwards 
they lovingly lived in chast wedlocke, and had issue 15 children, 
whereof 3 sons and 7 daughters came to mature age, and were most 
of them in the life times of their parents matched into ancient families 
of worship, most of them having fayre issues. 

" Thus having lived to see their children to ye third generation, they 
meekly dyed in ye feare and favor of their God. 

"He on Thursday ye 19th of May, 1636, aged 85. She on Thursday ye 
23 August, 1638, aged 75." 

Epitaph in Steeple Church, Isle of Purbeck. 

"A.D. 1588. A letter to Sir Richard Rogers, Knight, and others the 
Commysion(ers) appointed for the Musters in the Isle of Purbecke, 
that where (as) their Lordships are given to understand that divers 
persons of habylytie that have landes in the said Isle had of late 
absented them selves from thence, and did dwell uppon their own 
livinges in other partes of the Realme, whereby bothe that Island 
(being a place of no small importance) was unfurnished of men of 
habylytie and calling, and did want the succor of that necessary 
contrybucion for publique services : therefore they were required 
and aucthoryzed by vertue hereof to cause such a reasonable taxe 
and chardge to be laied and levyed upon the landes of soche persons 
so absenting them selves and not resydent there, as should be fytt 
to be imployed uppon musket tes and other necessary provysion." 

Acts of the Privy Council of England. New Series, Vol. XVI. 

" O eloquent, just and mighty death, whom none could advise, thou hast 
persuaded ; what none hath presumed, thou hast done ; and whom 
all the world hath nattered, thou hast cast out of the world and 
despised ; thou hast drawn together all the extravagant greatness, 
all the pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered all over with 
two narrow words : Hie jacet." 

SIR WALTER RALEIGH, 

The History of the World. 



VIII 
THE NEW RICH 




THE Cardinal Archbishop who set up the bright- 
hued roof in Bere church was in many ways like 
great men of other times. He had eminent 
virtues of statecraft and administration. He brought two 
sovereigns Margaret and Henry VII to England from 
overseas : he was the rightly trusted adviser of each. He 
encouraged the young Thomas More, and saw in him signs 
of future greatness. He held many livings (several at once, 
as a rule) and filled many high offices. But the life he had 
lived in Dorset was soon to vanish and not return. If he 
could have looked into the future, he might have said, with 
Mr. Turveydrop, " We gentlemen are few : I see nothing to 
succeed us but a race of weavers." 

It would have been a curiously apt statement. For one 
great change in country life that came in with the Tudors 
was due in a large measure to the development of the cloth 

131 



132 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

industry. It was due also to other causes which will be 
mentioned. But under Henry VIII the sheep emerged to 
give rural England wealth, and to consolidate the growing 
tendency to the holding of private property in land. 

Henry VIII himself took note of that tendency. In the 
preamble to an Act of his twenty -fifth year of rule, he 
complained of the way in which his subjects were scheming 
" how they might accumulate and gather together into few 
hands, as well great multitude of farms as great plenty of 
cattle, and in especial sheep." A few years earlier he had 
observed that " vagabonds and beggars have of long time 
increased and daily do increase," and he initiated the long 
series of vagrancy laws. 

It is not certain that the noble creature of the Dorset 
hills to-day was itself one of the agents of this change. 
But the Dorset Horn sheep the Dorset Down being appar- 
ently a later breed is as least very ancient, very famous, 
very strong ; so strong and fierce-looking, at times, that 
delicate females have been observed to show fear in the 
presence even of the ewes. The lady sheep has horns and 
a Roman nose, and a great thickset body. See how haughtily 
she looks down that nose at you, with what menacing pride 
she draws herself up to confront you. She fears nor man 
nor dog. Let the terrier approach, she stands superb : 
she frowns, she stamps her foot : she stamps it again. 
If the terrier quails, she chases him. But if, after the manner 
of terriers, he blench not. . . . 

I once saw about three hundred of these gracious dames in 
a big green valley. They were fussing together like a swarm 
of ants. I could not understand why, until I caught sight 
of what looked like a bright brown leaf blown about round 
the flock. The leaf danced methodically ; and when its 
caper ings had got the sheep neatly herded in a dense mass, 
it stood at the end of the valley and regarded them triumph- 
antly, its plumed tail waving over its back like a banner ; 
for it was a small and infinitely pugnacious Lion Dog of 
Pekin. 



THE NEW RICH 133 

No, the Dorset ewe is not really braver than other sheep, 
though handsomer. But the ram is another matter. He is 
a great barrel of a fellow, with a head like a bull's. And he 
is not content with the simple Ionic curve of his spouses' 
horns : he has coil upon coil gloriously wreathed. 

The offspring of these mates (whose hardy vigour often 
produces two families in a year) are perhaps the most 
interesting lambs known to our fortunate isles. Not only 
are they delicious food ; they are Nature's most successful 
attempt to live up to Art. The ideal lamb of Art, of course, 
is the woolly toy of the nursery. The Dorset lamb is an 
excellent imitation of it. Its nascent horns give it the 
breadth of forehead necessary to make the features at once 
perfectly innocent and perfectly foolish. Its eyes are small 
and properly overshadowed by wool, its nose a mere pink 
speck in a white plain. It ought to be mounted on a little 
crimson stand with wheels, and to squeak when pinched. 
I have never pinched one, but its bleat is thin, in contrast 
to the deep poignant voice of its mother.* 

But the land-grabbers of the sixteenth century were not 
concerned with the aesthetics of sheep -keeping. They had 
too many interests for that. The Dissolution of the 
Monasteries brought wealth to many of the sovereign's 
supporters ; and they had a very good idea of business. 
I do not find the days of great Elizabeth particularly 
spacious : as a rule they are intensely concentrated, and 
often narrow. What an Elizabethan Englishman did was 
usually for his own advantage, and he did it with all his 
might. And he certainly, if he had the means, was " a 
liberal constant housekeeper," like Chaldecot of Steeple. 
I am not sure that the Elizabethan and Jacobean manor- 
houses are not finer survivals of the best Me of the time 
than all but the greatest of its literature. 

Dorset is peculiarly rich in such houses. Of those not 
to be dwelt upon much hereafter Athelhampton (begun 
perhaps in 1503), Cranborne, the house of the Cecils (of much 
* Cf . Elizabeth Prig. 



134 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

the same period), Melbury, whose builder is shown in a brass 
of 1532 in the church close by, Poxwell (Jacobean), Mapper- 
ton (late sixteenth century a most lovely secluded house), 
Parnham (one of the largest and most beautiful buildings 
in the stone and red-brick Tudor style), Chantmarle (1619 
lately restored to its old perfection), and Bingham's 
Melcombe (Henry VIII, for the most part, but older in places) 
rouse feelings much like those Butler experienced, in a 
different way, in the presence of the cathedrals : their 
builders must have been right in any conclusions they 
reached about life. And scores of little hidden farms, of 
the same period and of the same inspiration, but now en- 
joying no manorial rights, add to the conviction that nothing 
in the way of the adaptation of beauty to the then domestic 
life remained to be learnt by the Tudor landowners. 

It is a reflection on our life of to-day that whereas a 
house built by a newly enriched person at any time in the 
present or just past generation is more than likely to be 
vulgar, the homes built by the new rich of Henry and 
Elizabeth and James cannot have seemed seriously in con- 
trast with the abbeys out of whose stones they were so often 
constructed. The monastic buildings were noble models. 
The stone was good and well cut. It was put to many 
uses, for habitations of all kinds, as has been said already. 
I wonder what sort of queer pride a man who had made a 
fortune felt when he saw the material of the former sacred 
foundation rising, block by block, into the cosy mansion 
in which he and his wife (or his second or third wife) would 
eat their enormous rich spiced meals and beget their ten 
or twenty children ? 

Yet when the first vigour of our renaissance had gone, the 
uglier side of it shows. A Dorset parson throws a little 
personal light on the change. Thomas Bastard, born at 
Blandford in 1566, Vicar of Bere Regis and Rector of Aimer 
for most of his adult life, wrote a book of epigrams 
Chrestoleros of more than average merit. He suffered 
himself, it seems, from poverty : an epistle of 1603 (accord- 






THE NEW RICH 135 

ing to his admirable editor, Dr. Grosart) addressed to King 
James I, speaks of his " extreme poverty and toiling 
wretchedness." In an epigram on a chance meeting with a 
" wantcatcher," he puns upon the double meaning of the 
mole's old name : 

" ' Then you have left no more ? ' ' No more ? ' quoth he, 
' Sir, I can show you more : the more the worse.' 
And to his work he went. But 'twould not be 
For all the wants were crept into my purse. 

' Farewell, friend wantcatcher, since 'twill not be 
Thou canst not catch the wants, but they catch me.' " 

In another he speaks of his needing 100, and being 
unable to make it by his books.* There may have been 
good reason for his poverty. Dr. Grosart thinks he was " a 
genial, not to say jovial parson, after the type of Robert 
Herrick." He seems to have been unhappily married, and 
his end was lamentable : " being towards his latter end 
crazed, and thereupon brought into debt, (he) was at length 
committed to the prison in Allhallows parish in Dorchester," 
and what that means the baiting of the alleged lunatic 
Malvolio may suggest " where dying very obscurely and 
in a mean condition, he was buried in the church-yard 
belonging to that parish on 19th April, 1618." An unkind 
brother epigrammatist wrote to him that : 

" Preaching would do more good 
If preachers wallowed less in flesh and blood." 

And as a young man he got into trouble at Oxford and had 
to resign his fellowship of New College, " being much guilty 
of the vices belonging to poets, and addicted to libelling." 

But whatever his virtues or vices, he loved Dorset and 
its " green joy," and above all the good trout-fishing at 
Bere.f And he evidently was on intimate terms with the 

* On Feb. 6, 1922, a single copy of the first edition of Chrestoleros, one 
of four or five known copies, was sold at Sotheby's to the representative 
of a great American book collector for 155. 

f " My little Bere dwells on a hill, 

Under whose foot the silver trout doth swim." 



136 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

local gentry Strangways and Moretons. He saw little 
good in the new order : he foresaw a wonderful scarcity 

" Of bankers and bakers, of all such as brew 

Of tanners, of tailors, of smiths and the rest 

because they would all have become gentlemen. And 

again : 

" Never so many masters any knew, 
And so few gentlemen in such a crew, 
Never so many houses, so small spending, 
Never such store of coin, so little lending. 
Never so many cousins, so few kind, 
Goodmorrows plenty, good wills hard to find, 
Never so many clerks, ne'er learning less, 
Many religions, but least godliness." 

The words have a curiously modern ring. And again, 
he complains of the multitude of usurers yet not enough, 
for they were all so busy lending to " gentlemen, merchants, 
nobles of the land " that poor men got no chance to deal with 
them. He found it hard even to write consistently ; for 

" How shall men's or manners' form appear 
Which while I write do change from what they were ? " 

Not that one need seriously regret the disappearance of 
the great religious houses and the established order of which 
they were part. They stood for a certain dependence of 
life which was becoming foreign to the English temper. 
As a consequence, the Dissolution shared with the wool 
trade the responsibility for the increase of vagrancy. Not 
only were hundreds of monks and nuns and servants of 
the religious houses deprived of occupation it should be 
remembered, by the way, that many were pensioned but 
the whole administration of charity and much of the 
organization of agricultural work vanished when these 
centres were destroyed. 

The direct result was the Elizabethan Poor Law, of which 
we are not yet rid. I am not going to argue for or against 
the various proposals for dealing with the problems the Poor 
Law was meant to solve. The effect, so far as the country 



THE NEW RICH 137 

labourer in Tudor times is concerned, was to keep wages low 
because the parish could be brought in to supplement 
them and to tie to the parish the worker who at the time 
almost seemed, by the process of economic evolution, to 
have got free of the chains that bound him to the soil. 

But to dwell on purely agricultural questions alone 
would be to ignore a large part of the bustling Tudor life. 
The increased responsibilities of the parish involved cor- 
porate labour for many purposes. A famous statute of 
Philip and Mary charged the parish with the upkeep of its 
roads ; and many of the beautiful bridges of Dorset those 
at Wool, Holme, Spettisbury, for instance were either 
built or restored in this period. The building activities 
of the new men, setting up their comfortable houses, must 
have provided a good deal of employment, as must also 
their business enterprises, like Clavell's undertaking at 
Kimmeridge. Their sports and pastimes were numerous. 
Perhaps George Turberville, himself of the great Dorset 
family, had the profiteer sportsman in mind when he wrote 
his Book of Falconry (1575) and Book of Venerie or Hunting : 
though after all many of them were country born, and could 
feel sincerely, as he did, that " a good Spaniel is a great 
jewel, and a good Spaniel maketh a good Hawk." 

Turberville, indeed, is an interesting example of an 
average Elizabethan of the better classes, not so rich or 
so able as to be eminent, but versatile and eager in all he 
did. It is hard to know whether he was a genuine outdoor 
man or not. He went to Russia apparently because he 
was crossed in love with the mission to Ivan Vasilivitch 
(Ivan the Terrible), so vividly described in Hakluyt. But he 
was only thirty-five or so when the Privy Council were told 
that he " hath been always from his youth, and still is, given 
to his book and study, and never exercised in matters of 
war." He had an epitaph of his own. " Ding, dong, cease 
now the bell he loved a pot of strong ale well." Perhaps 
it has some connection with his advice to the huntsman : 
" When he is up and ready, let him drink a good draught. 



138 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

. . . And let him not forget to fill his bottle with good wine." 
These admirable sentiments are followed by a luscious 
description of the most enormous cold luncheon of which 
any human being could be capable.* 

And here it may be convenient to insert, by way of con- 
trast, a brief mention of another Dorset man Arthur 
Gregory of Lyme Regis. His gift to the Tudor polity was 
a peculiar skill in opening even sealed letters, in such a 
manner that the recipient could by no means detect the 
interference. Walsingham, perhaps through the Dorset 
connections already mentioned, heard of this attractive 
artist, and conveyed him to London for suitable employ- 
ment in the Civil Service. 

The ordinary town life was likewise varied and vigorous. 
A few extracts from the account books of the Mayors of 
Weymouth (quoted by Mr. H. J. Moule in his excellent 
survey of the Borough records) suggest more than any 
description. These are expenses incurred : 

s. d. 

(1596) Conveying a mad man out of the Town . 3 
A shroud for a poor man that died in John- 
son's porch, and to the woman that 
shrouded him . . . . . 34 

(1597) Wine bestowed upon the lieutenants and 

the captains at times in their lodgings .150 

(1606) Sending into Portland about the pirates . 3 

(1611) Paid H. Tuckey for whipping a sailor . 4 
(1615) Given the Queen's players for not playing 

here, by order of the Aldermen . . 1 10 
9 dozen of lobsters Jno. Poop at Mr. Re- 
corder and 2 dozen of crabs, which cost 816 

* The legend of the Turberville coach is referred to in Tess. It is 
said to drive out of an evening from the beautiful Jacobean manor-house 
at Wool (an old Turberville dwelling), where the pictures on the walls 
still there so frightened Tess. Only Turbervilles can see the coach. A 
writer in the Dorset Field Club's Proceedings has this curious story : 

" A gentleman whom I have the honour to know was passing near here 




fashioned, but handsome affair, with outriders.' ' No,' they said, 
one here keeps such a turn-out, but you've surely seen the Turberville 
coach.' Now he is akin to the old Turberville race." 



THE NEW RICH 139 

" Sending into Portland about the pirates " the Privy 
Council sent into Weymouth itself often enough " about 
the pirates." The predatory instincts of the Dorset mariners 
were apt to get England into trouble with other nations. 
In 1546 " all the men of war adventurers " in the Dorset 
ports had to be ordered not to put out to sea ; and the same 
year an enquiry was held at Weymouth about a certificate 
for cargo landed : 

" The captain of a pinnace called the Mary Grace of 
Saltash . . . did enter into Weymouth Haven, and dis- 
charged out of her goods to the value of sixty pounds ; 
forasmuch as in the said certificate no mention was made 
where the ship that the goods were taken out of is become, 
nor what was done with the mariners in her, which made 
the matter savour somewhat of a piracy. ..." 

The result of the enquiry is not given. It is clear that 
there was a thoroughly well-organized system of receiving 
and distributing the booty obtained by these means. The 
ransom of prisoners was a common transaction on ordinary 
hard business lines. There are constant complaints and 
enquiries about piracy all through the reign of Elizabeth 
and James. In 1582 a Weymouth man, newly turned 
pirate, landed at Studland with his companions, and there 
cut down the gallows on which men of his trade were hanged. 
But the luck was not all on one side. In that same year the 
Mayor of Weymouth was the accuser, not the accused : 
he wrote to the Privy Council that " four ships have been 
taken by the Turks and are sunk, to the value of more than 
2000." In the later abortive attempts, in 1619-20, to 
suppress the Barbary corsairs, Weymouth was also keenly 
interested. 

The great impetus to seafaring and oversea trade given by 
the discovery of America, especially after the destruction 
of the Armada, affected the Dorset ports. It was at this 
time that the country's close connection with Newfound- 
land was established. Poole boats were certainly going to 
the Newfoundland fisheries as early as 1583. Early in 



140 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

1588, when a general embargo was laid on all foreign-going 
boats in view of the Spanish preparations, it was worth 
the while of certain " contemptuous persons " in the ship 
Primrose of Poole to risk breaking the embargo and sail 
for the Banks. In 1618, the Privy Council were informed 
that " the adventures of this town (Poole) are not in any 
staple, but in fishing voyages for the New Found Land, and 
so home." By 1628, according to the Victoria County 
History, Poole used to send twenty boats a year to the 
Banks ; in 1622, Weymouth, which had previously sent 
thirty -nine, sent eleven. They sailed in spring and returned 
late in the summer. The trade continued to grow for two 
centuries : it was at its highest in 1813 ; then it waned, and 
Poole sent only seventy vessels west in 1839 which is 
estimated at a fifth of the 1813 tonnage. The fishers had 
gradually taken to setting up huts to cure the fish on the 
spot ; and then huts for their own lodging : and so to 
complete settlement.* 

It is in those daily events which go to the making of a 
livelihood that life continues. Three and a half centuries 
later we are apt to think of the climax of Elizabeth's reign as 

* There were risks about the voyage. " And when the sixteen were 
in the boat, some had small remembrance, and some had none : for they 
did not make account to live, but to prolong their lives as long as it pleased 
God, and looked every moment of an hour when the sea would eat them 

up, the boat being so little and so many men in her, and so foul weather 

Thus while we remained two days and two nights . . . there was in our 
company one Master Hedly that put forth this question to me the Master. 
* I do see that it doth please God that our boat liveth in the sea, and it 
may please God that some of us may come to the land if our boat were not 
overladen. Let us make sixteen lots, and those four that have the 
shortest lots we will cast overboard, preserving the Master among us all.' 
I replied unto him, saying, * No, we will live and die together.' . . . 
Thus we continued the third and fourth day without any sustenance, 
save only the weeds that swam in the sea, and salt water to drink. The 
fifth day Hedly died and another moreover : then we desired all to die : 
for in all those five days and five nights we saw the sun but once and the 
stars but one night, it was so foul weather. Thus did we remain the sixth 
day." They reached land the seventh day. The narrative is by Richard 
Clarke of Weymouth, Master of the Delight : the date 1583. 

It may be interesting here also to enter the name of another Newfound- 
land-Dorset man Captain Robert Abram Bartlett, whom Peary left at 
the end of the last stage on his journey to the North Pole. Captain 
Bartlett's ancestors, of Poole, settled in Newfoundland three generations 
ago. He is proud of his Dorset lineage, and is an overseas member of the 
Society of Dorset Men in London. 



THE NEW RICH 141 

the few years which produced Shakespeare and the defeat 
of the Armada. I must deal with Shakespeare as Wey mouth 
dealt with him : the Queen's players shall not enter here. 

I am inclined to think that except for a week or two 
of excitement just before and after the battle with Spain, 
local feeling was likely to be chiefly concerned with local 
men, of whom there is evidence to indicate " a certain 
liveliness." Of course, the defeat of the Armada the main 
encounter began off Lyme, and filled the Dorset ports with 
prizes was a national affair. But it was probably looked 
upon locally through short-distance glasses, in which the 
hero of Poole or Weymouth or Lyme would stand out as 
through a stereoscope. Even so, he often had a wide 
background. Consider the arrival at Poole in 1582, in the 
ship Landret, of Miles Philips, after sixteen years in the 
power of Spain. This is a little of the story he had to tell 
Poole of his adventures after the Spanish treachery at San 
Juan de Ulloa. When Drake and Hawkins escaped so nar- 
rowly from the consequences of their filibustering, Philips 
and others were perforce put ashore in Mexico, and duly 
captured by the Spaniards, and taken to Mexico City and 
tried by Inquisitors. " Then did they proceed to demand 
of us on our oaths what we did believe of the Sacrament, 
and . . . whether we did not believe that the host of 
bread which the priest did hold up over his head, and the 
wine that was in the chalice, was the very true and peifect 
body and blood of our Saviour Christ, yea or no : to which 
if we answered not yea, then there was no way but death. 
. . . About the space of three months before they proceeded 
to their severe judgment, we were all racked, and some 
enforced to utter that against themselves, which after- 
wards cost them their lives." They were taken out publicly 
for the delivery of sentence, " every man alone in his yellow 
coat, and a rope about his neck, and a great green wax 
candle in his hand unlighted. . . . The first man that was 
called was one Roger the armourer of the Jesus, and he had 
judgment to have three hundred stripes on horseback, and 



142 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

after condemned as a slave to the galleys for ten years." 
Others got less, but enough. Philips was awarded no 
stripes, but " to serve in a monastery for five years, and to 
wear a fool's coat, or San Benito, during all that time." 
He made various escapes and attempts at escape : and at 
last, after almost incredible hardships, reached Spain itself, 
and so to Majorca, where " I found two English ships, the 
one of London and the other of the West Country, which 
were ready freighted and stayed but for a fair wind." That 
little ship of the dear West Country which had ventured 
so near to the Barbary coast carried him safely back to Poole. 

But though the great event was at hand, and Dorset 
knew it for in 1586 two Liverpool men fresh from Bilboa 
landed at Weymouth with news of 700 sail and 280,000 men 
being prepared against England when it arrived, there was 
not overmuch eagerness to serve, or having served, to do it 
again. Sir George Trenchard, of the Commission for the 
county, was pressed to expedite the despatch of 1000 
footmen, for the national forces, to " Stratford of the Bow," 
by July 29, 1588, and lancers and light horse a week later. 
The county armour had to be looked up, men pricked and 
mustered (Falstaff and Mr. Justice Shallow no doubt took 
a hand), defences over which for two or three years there 
had been argument hastily put into some sort of order,* 
ships furnished at the county's expense. Eventually, 
though they did their best to get out of paying for it, Poole 
provided one ship and one pinnace, Weymouth and Mel- 
combe two ships and a pinnace, and Lyme (with Chard and 
Axminster contributing) two ships and a pinnace. Even if 
they had been able to evade the levy, they could not have 
used the ships; for on March 31, 1588, by order of the 
Privy Council, a total embargo was laid on all shipping. 

I am not to describe the great fight. The Dorset ships 

* Sometimes at the enemy's expense. The Privy Council commanded 
Trenchard "to deliver unto Carew Rawleigh, Esquire, [elder brother of 
Walter] or his deputy, six port pieces of ordnance, being demi-culverins, 
of those that were taken hi the Spanish ship lately brought into Wey- 
mouth, for the provision of Portland Castle." 



THE NEW RICH 143 

were there. One was the Revenge of Lyme, which later under 
Grenville was to engage a whole Spanish squadron without 
assistance. " The Spanish Fleet, came, went, and was 
vanquished. . . . The magnificent, huge, and mighty fleet, 
such as sailed not upon the Ocean Sea many hundred years 
before, in the year 1588 vanished into smoke." 

I have said those times were not altogether spacious ; 
but that is unfair when one looks at the Armada fight from 
a national point of view. It is at close quarters at home that 
the Elizabethan loses the grand air. And yet a Dorset 
leader and his companions gave the age a spaciousness that 
will live for ever. The " still- vexed Bermoothes," the 
Bermudas, were in 1609 rediscovered discovered, so far 
as the New World matters by Sir George Somers of Whit- 
church Canonicorum, M.P. for Lyme Regis in 1603-4, and 
Mayor in 1605. And the account of that voyage, written 
by another Dorset man, is as certainly as may be the 
foundation of much of The Tempest. 

By a queer coincidence of our English contradictions, 
it was the austere Milton's secretary, Puritan of Puritans, 
who translated into liquid golden verse the historian's 
splendid catalogue of the wonders Somers found in the 
remote Bermudas : 

" Where He the huge sea-monsters wracks, 
That lift the deep upon their backs. . . . 
He gave us this eternal Spring, 
Which here enamels everything ; 
And send the fowls to us in care, 
On daily visits through the air. 
He hangs in shades the orange bright, 
Like golden lamps in a green night, 
And does in the pomegranate close 
Jewels more rich than Ormus shows 5 
He makes the figs our mouths to meet, 
And throws the melons at our feet ; 
But (with ?) apples, plants of such a price, 
No tree could ever bear them twice ; 
With cedars, chosen by His hand, 
From Lebanon He stores the land ; 
And makes the hollow seas that roar 
Proclaim the ambergris on shore." 



144 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Andrew Mar veil got his enthusiasm, doubtless, from his 
friend Oxenbridge, who visited the Bermudas after Somers : 
but he got his language except the glorious couplet about 
the orange direct from Somers' fellow- voyager, Sylvester 
Jour dan,* whose account of 1610 is dedicated to a Dorset 
Justice of the Peace. The Bermudas had been called 
" An Isle of Devils," " a most prodigious and enchanted 
place, affording nothing but gusts, storms, and foul winds " 
watched by God Setebos, inhabited by Caliban and 
Sycorax ; maybe by Prospero also, for it was an isle of 
voices. Somers, in the Sea Adventure, bound for Virginia, 
was wrecked. " For three days and three nights together " 
he sat on the poop, guiding a ship whose crew, fearing no 
better fate than a " more joyful and happy meeting in a 
more blessed world," were as drunk as Trinculo and Stephano. 
They " fell in between two rocks " in the Bermudas, whence 
they could land, and built from their materials a new ship. 
The island, instead of being peopled by devils, was found to 
be a paradise. " Fish is there so abundant that if a man step 
into the water they will come round about him ; so that men 
were fain to get out for fear of biting." Somers with a hook 
took enough in half an hour to feed the whole company for 
a day. A thousand mullet could be taken at a draught 
with a seine ; and anyone who knows the subtlety of the 
netted mullet will appreciate that plenty. " Infinite store 
of pilchards . . . great abundance of hogs, as that there 
hath been taken by Sir George Somers to the number of two 
and thirty at one time " (by another odd coincidence 
Somers died there of a surfeit of pig the next year !) . . . 
" great store of tortoises (which some call turtles), and those 
so great that I have seen a bushel of eggs in one of their 
bellies . . . one of them will suffice fifty men a meal at 
the least. . . . Fowl in great number, that there hath 
been taken in two or three hours a thousand at the least. 
Great store and plenty of herons. . . . Prickled pears, 

* Jourdan is a name constantly recurrent in the municipal records of 
Dorchester. Sylvester was a Lyme man. 



THE NEW RICH 145 

great abundance, great plenty of mulberries white and red. 
. . . And there is a tree called the Palmito tree, which hath 
a very sweet berry upon which the hogs do most feed ; 
but our men, finding the sweetness of them, did willingly 
share with the hogs for them, they being very pleasant and 
wholesome, which made them careless almost of any bread 
with their meat. . . . An infinite number of cedar trees 
(the fairest I think in the world). . . . No venomous 
creature so much as a rat or mouse. . . . Great store of 
pearl. . . . Some good quantity of ambergris . . . Great 
plenty of whales." 

The fortunate isles. ... No wonder that 

" Thus sung they, in the English boat, 
An holy and a cheerful note, 
And all the way, to guide their chime, 
With falling oars they kept the time." 

When they had rebuilt that happy boat rebuilt ; and yet 
people wonder that the Swiss Family Robinson could tame 
ostriches, or Crusoe build a hut ! they went on to Virginia ; 
and from there " being willing to do service unto his Prince 
and Country, without any respect of his private gain, and 
being of threescore years at the least, out of his worthy and 
valiant mind," Somers undertook to go back to Bermuda 
for the hogs Virginia needed ; and so died. 

It is really in the villages and towns of to-day, as secluded 
and forgotten as Somers' birthplace, that the historical 
vestiges can give out the breath of life. Walk from Burton 
Bradstock to Sherborne, and let the Tudor folk speak for 
themselves of their own greatness and pride and cruelty and 
ambition. 

Start from Burton Bradstock, not only because it is a 
good place, but because the church contains the old clock 
of the only institution where the Elizabethan dress is to-day 
in daily use the clock from the old Newgate Street build- 
ings of Christ's Hospital. Proceed thence along the Bride 
valley. You will come near Bredy Farm to the disused 
stone pillars of a gateway. It is the entry to the Bedford 



146 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Estate, for here at Berwick manor (now a farm) were founded 
the fortunes of the Duchy of Bedford. A little of the old 
house is left, and a small barn to the north-west looks as 
ancient as the Duchy. 

The Russells were a Dorset family established at Kingston 
Russell further east two hundred and fifty years before 
John Russell of Berwick, a member of that house, saw and 
seized his opportunity of fame. The Archduke Philip and 
his wife Joan, daughter of the King of Castile, were driven 
by a storm in 1506 to land at Weymouth, and were enter- 
tained not, perhaps without some neutral vigilance by 
Sir Thomas Trenchard at his new-built manor-house, 
Wolverton, near Dorchester. They needed a man of 
" habylytie and standing " to make the commerce of 
hospitality smooth. John Russell had lately returned 
from travels abroad, and was summoned in aid : he spoke 
Spanish. He was so efficient and companionable that he 
accompanied the guests to London when Henry VII de- 
sired to be their host. He obtained a post at court and 
improved it under the eighth Henry. He fought brilliantly 
in France, held the position of ambassador at Rome, became 
a privy councillor and at length the first Baron Russell, 
Warden of the Stanneries, Knight of the Garter, Lord 
Privy Seal, and Earl of Bedford. 

" He had a moving beauty that waited on his whole 
body, a comportment unaffected, and such comeliness in his 
mien as exacted a liking, if not a love, from all that saw him. 
... In dancing " one of Henry VIII 's delights " ho 
was not too exquisite, for that is vanity : but his dancing 
was a graceful exercise wherein ho was carelessly easy, 
as if it were rather natural motion than curious and artificial 
practice which endeared his severer virtues. . . . Though 
Mr. Russell brought himself into court by what did humour, 
he kept himself in there by what obliged ; standing not so 
much upon his prince's pleasure as his interest, and adding 
to his more airy courtships the solidity of serviceable 
actions." 



THE NEW RICH 147 

With Russell's marriage to Anne Sapcote of Chenies, 
and his later grant from Henry VIII of the Cistercian Abbey 
of Woburn, his illustrious family passes out of close con- 
nection with the county of Dorset, except in so far as the 
holding of various high offices brought its members into 
touch with local government. They retained the greater 
part of their Dorset estates till recently, however, and Lord 
John Russell, when he accepted his earldom in 1861, took 
the title of Earl Russell of Kingston Russell. 

That is the foundation of one great family, though the 
founder came of a good enough line originally. Take the 
footpath across country from Berwick to Swyre and see how 
a deal in fish founded another. In the plain little church 
(now too often locked) is commemorated James Napier 
(the name is also spelt Napper, as in Napper's Mite, the 
Dorchester almshouses). He was a capable Scot, who 
" came into England in the reign of Henry VII, settled here, 
and supplied the adjacent abbies with fish, from whom are 
descended the Napiers of Dorset and Scotland." It seems 
a surprising origin : but the panegyrist is careful to 
exclude the fish by mentioning that James was the brother 
of Sir Alexander Napier, Knight, and that James I (his 
kinsman) commanded Sir Robert Napier, " on creating him 
Baronet, A.D. 1612, to send for his pedigree out of 
Scotland."* 

Hutchins' editors mention another remarkable inhabitant 
of Swyre churchyard who died in 1613 a Bridport doctor, 
Walter Gray. He " was a little desperate doctor commonly 
wearing a pistol about his neck." He had a bodyguard of 
the younger gentry, whom he called his " sons," and was 
apparently always in debt. He would prophesy with 
accuracy the date of the death or recovery of his patients : 
but it is not clear how he so far evaded the Sheriff's constant 
attention as to have any patients. 

I like better than James Napier that Sir Robert who is 

* The trade in the huge mackerel catches of this part of the coast passed 
under George V to another great merchant whose title is also new. 



148 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

buried at Puncknowle, a mile away to the north-east, 
across the fields. His epitaph he died in 1700 is simple : 



" 2/aas ovap a 
(Man is the dream of a shadow) 
Non magna loquimur, sed vivimus. 

Reader, when as thou hast done all thou canst, thou art 
but an unprofitable servant ; therefore this marble affords 
no room for fulsome flattery or vain praise. S r> R.N." 

The helmet and gauntlets of one of his ancestors rest 
above the slab. The carver of the inscription may have 
been nearer in spirit to James Napier of Swyre and Scotland. 
At any rate, he appears on the epitaph as prominently 
as Sir Robert : " Johannes Hamiltonus, Scoto-Britannus, 
fecit."* 

The whole of this church is interesting. The key to be 
obtained at the vicarage is a massive and complex piece 
of Tudor work. The font seems to be Norman. The 
Bexington aisle or chapel forms a curious little domestic 
enclave to the south, and there is another large Napier tomb 
of the seventeenth century. The lychgate has a fine roof 
of Dorset stone tiles. 

In the village (" William holds Puncknowle of the wife 
of Hugh, son of Grip : Alward held it in King Edward's 
time . . .") may be found a cosy inn where the landlady 

* The Napiers or Nappers, like the Strangways, Digbys, and Shaftes- 
burys, were great figures in Dorset for many generations, and sometimes 
in English life also. This modest Sir Robert sat in Parliament for Wey- 
mouth and Dorchester successively. He was son of an untitled Robert, 
who was Receiver-General, and brother to Sir Gerard, a comparatively 
temperate Royalist who sat for Melcombe Regis and won the favour of 
Charles II. A Sir Nathaniel begat Sir Gerard, and another Sir Robert 
begat Nathaniel, being in his lifetime M.P. successively for Dorchester, 
Bridport, and Wareham, and Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland. 
The aforesaid Sir Gerard begat a Sir Nathaniel (" dilettante " proh 
pudor !), and he yet another Nathaniel : from whom, collaterally, are 
descended the Sturt or Alington families of to-day. A miraculous draught 
of fishes. The first Lord Alington bequeathed a set of waistcoat buttons 
to King Edward VII : he was the owner of St. Blaize, Common, and much 
property in Hoxton and Dorset. I still like the self -concealing Sir Robert 
best. (The above statements are taken from the Dictionary of National 
Biography and G.E.C.'s Complete Peerage.) 



THE NEW RICH 149 

sits weaving nets a local industry with a shuttle that 
flies so quickly in her skilful hands that you can hardly 
see it ; the remains of the stocks ; a pleasant drinking 
trough carefully shaded ; and behind the church stands the 
most compact and charming of all the Dorset manors, a 
tiny gabled Jacobean house of grey weathered stone, 
exquisitely proportioned. 

From here there is a footpath directly across the water- 
meadows to Litton Cheney : but it is very difficult to trace 
at times, and if you miss it you will be lost in a maze of 
little brooks. There is a slightly longer path, through 
Look Farm (" William holds Lahoc of the Earl of Moreton. 
Aluric held it in King Edward's time ") ; and this is worth 
following, for the early eighteenth -century house has a 
demure comfortable beauty not soon forgotten. (The track 
lies through the farm barton and then to the left, not past 
the front of the house.) 

A former tenant of Look had an epitaph (at Litton 
Cheney) which is in keeping with the gracious house : 

" Beneath this stone in a darke dusty bed, 
lamented much a virgin rests her head ; 
And such an one who (dying) hath bereft 
the world of that worth as scarce in it is left. 
Of a sweet face, but of a sweeter minde, 
and a sweet fame (dying) shee left behinde. 
Smitten by death even in her blooming age, 
and height of beauty, shee went off ye stage 
Of this frail world ; this with grief wee see 
that such rare creatures seldom e aged bee. 
For why, the Angels want such company 
to joyne with them in heavenly melody. 
With whom in Heaven she doth now possess 
the fruit of vertue's lasting happiness." 

Litton Cheney (save for an episode to be recorded later) 
is remarkable only for loveliness. Down each side of the 
street runs a silver stream between the road and the golden 
houses ; and argosies of silver ducks float garrulous upon 
their waters, or stand, dibbling snakily with their long 



150 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

necks, on the massive stones that serve as footbridges for 
each house. Right at the top of the village, on its own 
knoll, rises the church, a plain building with a handsome 
tower and an oldish painting of David playing the harp in 
a theatrical ecstasy. 

A byroad leads from Litton, past a comely eighteenth- 
century house, to Long Bredy, a pleasant hamlet of no 
great interest. Here once more you are in the kingdoms of 
the dead. There is a long barrow just above the village 
and tumuli all around. The stone circle called the 
Grey Mare and her Colts is in the parish, and other 
Neolithic remains. The ruins of Kingston Russell House 
(where Admiral Hardy lived and J. L. Motley died) are 
also in the parish. 

The way lies now across country utterly desolate. Take 
the footpath past the church over the hill, cross the main 
road, and go by other faint tracks straight to Compton 
Valence, three miles away. In the valley leading down to 
that hamlet, traces of the Roman water supply for Dor- 
chester have been found. The little village takes its second 
name from the Earls of Pembroke, but they did not succeed in 
giving it any history. It must have slept among its trees 
undisturbed since Hugo de Forth received the manor from 
the Conqueror, in lieu of Bundi the Saxon. 

Another winding track, also in places undiscoverable, 
leads to Grimstone, in the- cool spacious Frome valley. 
There is nothing of note here. But it is necessary now to 
choose between two routes to the next objective Batcombe, 
on the edge of Blackmore Vale. You can get on to a pretty 
byroad by Grimstone station and go along past Sydling 
Water to Sydling St. Nicholas, and through Up-Sydling to the 
hills. Or you can follow the Roman road. The first four 
miles are utterly deserted and very beautiful ; then it 
becomes the main Dorchester-Yeovil road, and there is more 
traffic. A little before the fourth milestone (fourth from 
Maiden Newton, twelfth from Dorchester) turn to the right, 
and you will come to the same point as by the Sydling route. 



THE NEW RICH 151 

Or by adding an extra mile or so to your walk you can 
combine the best of both routes ; go three miles or more 
along the Roman road and then take the track already 
mentioned* down to Sydling. 

Certainly Up-Sydling (a form of name similar to that seen 
in Up-Cerne, Up-Lyme, Up-Wey) should not be over- 
looked. It has a charming little farm-manor-house, and the 
way to it lies alongside streams at many points. Behind it 
rise the great hills, and the path climbs through a glorious 
wooded valley to the summit, nearly 800 feet up. 

This is the best approach to almost the best view in the 
south of England ; for you come to it quite unexpectedly. 
But I shall speak of that later. For the present, do not wait, 
but go down the steep track to Batcombe Church. As you 
stand on the top of the hill, you look right on to the build- 
ing, and its seems almost as if you could leap over it with a 
little effort. Indeed, a less desirable person than the reader 
of this book is said to have done so. It was anciently a 
custom of the devil to exercise his horse in this manner. 
A former vicar of Batcombe (the living goes with that of 
Frome Vauchurch, five steep miles away) told me that when 
he first went to the place, a generation ago, one of the pin- 
nacles of the tower had fallen and was lying in the church- 
yard. He had great difficulty in replacing it ; for the 
villagers insisted that the devil's horse had knocked it off 
with his hoof as he leapt in derision over the holy building, 
and to restore it would be to their hurt. 

The devil was not the only wizard in Batcombe There are 
strange tales of one Conjuring Minterne, who lived in the 
seventeenth century John Minterne, of a well-known 
local family. Sir Frederick Treves recalls these stories. 
Formerly, according to Hutchins, half his gravestone lay 
in Batcombe churchyard. Like another Dorset man of the 
same century, he would be buried neither in nor outside the 
church, and had his tomb placed in the wall. 

The church itself has a simple slab recording his death. 

* Pages 115, 116. 



152 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

It has also that rare thing, a stone screen, of plain good 
design. It is a little unpretentious place of worship, suitable, 
somehow, to this village lost between the great hills and the 
great valley. 

Lost ? No : not entirely. Batcombe was the town of 
the Little Commonwealth ; a penal settlement for children, 
on advanced and successful lines. Hither came little 
delinquents from the London Police Courts, and learnt by 
experience the duties of freedom. They were their own 
governors, held their own law courts, under wisely veiled 
supervision. There were incorrigibles among them, run- 
aways, idlers, of course, but on the whole the place made for 
a real reform of the spirit, a genuine application of the theory 
of social punishment which does not try to penalize but to 
change the soul. It was closed during the war, for reasons 
unconnected with its ideals. And then it had another ideal ; 
it became a farm settlement for ex-service men. But that 
too has perished. 

So down into the Vale of Blackmore, a great weald 
formerly closely wooded, and once called, according to 
Coker of Mappowder in the Vale, the Forest of White Hart; 
for a gentleman of that district killed, at King's Stag Bridge 
over the Stour (the name still stands), a white hart which 
Henry III, hunting there, had spared ; " but he soon 
found how dangerous it was to be twitching a lion by the 
ears," for the King imprisoned him and exacted a yearly 
fine called White Hart Silver. 

Except in May, this weald country is not of great beauty 
or interest as compared with the hills or the heath. The 
road runs quietly to Leigh. Here there is a miz-maze or 
curiously wrought earthwork, the meaning of which is not 
certainly known : formerly in spring the young folk used 
to scour it every few years, with mirth and cheerful ritual. 
There is another at " Troy," not far from Dorchester, to the 
east, and there used to be one at Pimperne. 

Hence, still by road, either to Lillington or Long Burton, 
and so at last to Sherborne, the old seat of the bishopric, 



THE NEW RICH 153 

the capital of Western Wessex, " the most frequented town 
in the county " in Elizabeth's day. 

I have spoken of Sherborne Abbey and its glorious fan 
tracery, and of Aldhelm its great first bishop. I will not 
now dwell on the school, with its splendid buildings, new 
and old, its library, its high traditions ; nor upon the con- 
duit in mid-town, nor the " hospital " whose residents are 
so anxiously eager to show its treasures ; nor upon the many 
old houses, nor upon the unseemly architecture and solid 
comfort of the chief inn : nor even at any length upon the 
Castle, except to mention that its central portion was built 
by Sir Walter Raleigh, who here, it is said, first performed 
the miracle of smoking, and caused his servant to try to 
extinguish him with a bucket of water.* 

It is in the fate of Sherborne Castle as Raleigh's possession 
that the Tudor spirit seems to me to stand out most vividly. 
" Great Raleigh," he was called : a man of imagination 
and high courage, a writer of noble English, a sanguine 
discoverer : I wonder if he was great. 

He desired the manor of Sherborne exceedingly. It 
belonged to the bishopric of Sarum. His biographer says 
that " his eagerness to improve his own position came into 
happy conjunction with a strong opinion, which he shared 
with a large body of contemporaries, that Bishops and 
Church dignitaries ought not to be too heavily weighted 
with secular wealth." The bishopric opportunely fell 
vacant. It was a more than hinted condition of the appoint- 
ment of a successor to it that he would convey the Castle 
estate to the Queen for Raleigh. " I gave the Queen a 
jewel, worth 250, to make the Bishop." She made the 
Bishop. Raleigh got Sherborne. 

His life there was simple. He liked the place. He was 
concerned chiefly with domestic affairs. One Meeres, 
bailiff of Sherborne, was always plaguing him with writs 



* In testimony whereof it may be observed that forty years after 
Raleigh's death Sherborne possessed a presumably well-to-do tobacco- 
cutter, Robert Wyer. 



154- THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

and Meeres had married a kinswoman of Lady Essex, 
" a poor man's wife of this country, but too good for such a 
knave." He hawked. He looked after Cecil's son. He had 
the inconvenience of learning that his wife and son had (in 
his absence) to flee in different directions because " the 
plague is in the town very hot." He could easily get to the 
coast to look after his shipping monopoly. He met with 
annoyance once at Weymouth in that connection ; one 
Gilbert had landed a cargo of sassafras wood : "I have a 
patent that all ships and goods are confiscate that shall 
trade there without my leave, but whereas sassafras was 
worth 10s., 12s., and 20s. a pound before Gilbert returned, 
his cloying of the market will overthrow all mine, and his 
own also." 

From these little things he went to the Tower and lay 
under sentence of the grim and clumsy block for alleged 
treachery, never proved. He wrote distractedly to his wife 
at Sherborne, when he could no longer endure the suspense, 
and believed his doom certain : he had resolved on suicide. 
But even then he cared for the Dorset and Devon men who 
had trusted him : he asked his wife to sell his possessions, 
" and let the poor men's wages be paid with the goods, for 
the Lord's sake. Oh, what will my poor servants think, 
at their return, when they hear I am accused to be Spanish 
who sent them at my great charge to plant and discover 
upon his [the King of Spain's] territory." 

A little later he was in a greater mood, and would fain 
leave the world as a gentleman, and lie last of all in the place 
he loved : (l You shall receive, dear wife, my last words in 
these my last lines. My love I send you, that you may 
keep it when I am dead ; and my counsel, that you may 
remember it when I am no more. I would not, with my last 
will, present you with sorrows, dear Bess. Let them go to 
the grave with me, and be buried in the dust. And, seeing 
it is not the will of God that ever I shall see you in this life, 
bear my destruction gently, and with a heart like yourself. 
."" . Beg my dead body, which living was denied you ; 



THE NEW RICH 155 

and either lay it at Sherborne, if the land continue, or in 
Exeter church, by my father and mother. I can write no 
more. Time and death call me away. . . . My true wife, 
farewell. Bless my poor boy ; pray for me. My true God 
hold you both in His arms. 

" Written with the dying hand of sometime thy husband, 
but now (alas) overthrown. 

" Yours that was ; but now not my own, 

"W. RALEIGH." 

But there remained the last reprieve for the unhappy 
expedition to Guiana : James I was ready to pardon one 
who might make him rich. Raleigh's letters to Sherborne 
on that voyage are uneven ; as a rule he is uncertain and 
despondent, but occasionally he says a word which must 
have sounded exotic to quiet Dorset. " To tell you I might 
be here King of the Indians were a vanity ; but my name 
doth still live among them. Here they feed me with fresh 
meat, and all that the country yields ; all offer to obey me." 

His son died while he was on the voyage : "I shall sorrow 
the less, because I have not long to sorrow, because not long 
to live. . . . My brains are broken, and it is a torment for 
me to write, and especially of misery." 

He failed ; Eldorado was not to be discovered by him, 
and he came back to pay the penalty of failure. He knew 
how to die : " He was the most fearless of death that ever 
was known ; and the most resolute and confident, yet with 
reverence and conscience. . . . He gave God thanks that 
he never feared death, and much less then, for it was but 
an opinion and imagination." ..." He was very cheerful 
that morning he died, ate his breakfast heartily, and took 
tobacco, and made no more of his death than if he had been 
to take a journey." 

" At Sherborne, if the land continue . . ." As soon as 
Raleigh was dead, King James clutched at the estate for 
his favourite Robert Carr : "I mun ha' it for Robbie." 
Carew Raleigh, the son, remonstrated in vain : " they 
called the conveyance of Sherborne in question, in the 



156 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Exchequer," he wrote to the House of Commons, " and for 
want of one word (which word was found notwithstanding 
in the paper-book, and was the oversight of a clerk) they 
pronounced the conveyance invalid, and Sherborne for- 
feited to the Crown : a judgment easily to be foreseen 
without witchcraft ; since his chief est judge was his greatest 
enemy, and the case between a poor friendless prisoner and a 
King of England." 






IX 

" . . . for the deliverance of King James I, the Queen, the Prince, and 
all the Royal Branches, with the Nobility, Clergy, and Commons of 
England, by Popish treachery appointed as sheep to the slaughter, 
in a most barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of 
former ages." 

The Book of Common Prayer. 

" During the time men live without a common Power to keep them all 
in a 76, they are in that condition which is called War ; and such a 
war as is of every man against every man. . . . The nature of War 
consisteth not in actual fighting ; but in the known disposition 
thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All 
other time is Peace. 

" Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of War, where every man 
is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein 
men live without other security than what their own strength and 
their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such conditions, 
there is no place for Industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain ; 
and consequently no Culture of the Earth ; no Navigation, nor use 
of the commodities that may be imported by sea ; no commodious 
Building ; no Instruments of moving and removing such things as 
require much force ; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth ; no 
account of Time ; no Arts ; no Letters ; no Society ; and which is 
worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death ; and the 
life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." 

THOMAS HOBBES, 

Leviathan. 

" The sons of Belial had a glorious time." 

JOHN DRYDEN, 

Absalom and Achitophel. 



IX 



PKINCES IN FLIGHT 



BEAMlNSTEin 




I HAVE said more about economic and social changes 
than political, hitherto, because, on the whole, political 
ideas were hardly so diffused as to be the property 
of more than a limited class of Englishmen. The people in 
general felt the incidence of the policy informed by such 
ideas ; but except for the brief outburst of the Peasants' 
Revolt, their concern with the state of society was material 
rather than reflective. In the seventeenth century, however, 
they tampered actively with the State machine. All classes 
were, at least potentially, property owners ; all paid 
national taxes, received national justice or injustice, did 
national service through their local agency, the parish. 
Newspapers were started. A king was beheaded, his elder 
son chased, his younger son, also a king, exiled, his bastard 
grandson beheaded. 

159 



160 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

There is a famous passage in the first Lord Shaftesbury's 
autobiography which gives a lively picture of one side of 
Dorset life in that century. The gentry used to meet once 
a week (usually at Handley, on the edge of Cranborne 
Chase) to play bowls. There were notable men among them : 
Lord Bristol (Charles I's Secretary of State), for instance, 
and the Denzil Holies, who in 1629 held the Speaker in the 
Chair to prevent the House from adjourning at the King's 
command.* They were not to be all on the same side in the 
Civil War ; and the most brilliant of them all, Shaftesbury 
himself, was the least stable in principle and in fact : 

" A fiery soul, which, working out its way, 
Fretted the pigmy body to decay, . . . 
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease, 
In friendship false, implacable in hate, 
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state." 

It is impossible, nevertheless, for all his " close designs 
and crooked counsels," not to be fascinated by Shaftesbury's 
restless, versatile, indomitable spirit and fine mind. Frail 
of body, in constant pain, he showed high courage all his 
life, from the day when, as a freshman at Oxford, he put 
down the barbarous custom of " tucking," to the time when, 
dying a refugee in Holland, he was brought back for burial 
in the county of which he had been so great a part. 

But not all the people of Dorset were occupied in the 
manner of the Handley company. At the very time of 
Shaftesbury's account, the Rev. John White (an Oxford- 
shire man) " held a strong sway " in Dorchester. " A grave 

" God's wounds ! " cried Holies, " you shall sit till we please to rise ! " 
It is interesting to find so lively a figure commemorated at Dorchester in 
a panegyric exceptional in an epoch of complacent epitaphs : I may quote 
a sentence or two : it is very long : 

" All that Denzil's wit or courage, probity or industry, presaged in his 
youth, he made good and exceeded when grown a man, for, as excellent 
endowments and abilities made him early known to his prince and country, 
so he could, by his eloquence and valour, intrepidly defend the liberty 
of the last without refusing the obedience that was due to the former." 
Two of the chubbiest possible cherubs shed frozen marble tears before the 
effigy of Denzil posed very uncomfortably in the costume of a Roman 
senator^ 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 161 

man, without moroseness, as who would willingly contribute 
his shot of facetiousness on any just occasion. A constant 
preacher. ... A good governor, by whose wisdom the town 
of Dorchester (notwithstanding a casual merciless fire) 
was much enriched ; knowledge causing piety, piety breed- 
ing industry, and industry procuring plenty unto it. A 
beggar was not then to be seen in the town, all able poor 
being set on work, and impotent maintained by the profit 
of a public brewhouse, and other collections. He absolutely 
commanded his own passions, and the purses of his 
parishioners, whom he could wind up to what height he 
pleased on important occasions. He was free from covetous- 
ness, if not trespassing on the contrary ; and had a 
patriarchal influence both in Old and New England." 
Thomas Fuller, from whose Worthies the quotation comes, 
possibly knew White personally, for from 1634 to 1641 
(and perhaps again at the end of his life) he held the Dorset 
living of Broadwindsor, where his pulpit is still in use. 

White, however, was more than the parson of the county 
town. He was a leader of the West country Puritans, and 
it was largely due to him that the non-conforming party 
formed the Massachusetts Company (often called the Dor- 
chester Company), and in 1628 founded (or rather, organized) 
a settlement in that colony. A monument to John Endicott 
or Endecott, the first governor, was unveiled at Weymouth 
in 1914 by Endicott 's descendant, the wife of Joseph 
Chamberlain. Endicott is said to have been a Dorchester 
man. The first colonists sailed from Weymouth in the 
Abigail on June 20, 1628. 

It seems probable that the idea of this settlement arose 
out of the Dorset fishing " adventures " oversea. The 
boats in that trade sailed with double crews, to expedite 
the catch and packing. " It was conceived," says an 
authoritative pamphlet on the New England traffic, almost 
certainly written by White himself, " that, the fishing 
being ended, the spare men that were above their necessary 
sailors might be left behind with provisions for a year ; 

M 



162 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

and when that ship returned next year, they might assist 
them in fishing, as they had done the former year ; and 
in the meantime, might employ themselves in building, and 
planting corn, which, with the provisions of fish, fowl, and 
venison that the land yielded, would afford them the chief 
of their food." They raised " a stock of more than 3000, 
intended to be paid in five years, but afterwards disbursed 
in a shorter time." But it was found (" which experienced 
fishermen could easily have foreseen beforehand ") that 
good fishermen do not necessarily make good land settlers, 
nor a fishing ground an earthly paradise. They wanted shoe- 
makers, vineplanters, " men skilful in making of pitch, of 
salt," a barber-surgeon, mining experts, and so on. It 
needed Endicott's arrival with new settlers not bound to 
the fisheries, but akin in their desire for religious liberty, 
and amenable to the governor's genuine powers of organiza- 
tion, to set up the new colony on a sound footing ; though 
even so the sort of practical difficulty that had to be faced 
can be gathered from a letter to White, of 1632, about a 
Dorset man : " I have much difficulty to keep John 
Galloppe (Gollop ?) here by reason his wife will not come. 
I marvel at her woman's weakness, that she will live 
miserably with her children there, when she might live 
comfortably with her husband here. I pray you persuade 
and further her coming by all means ; if she will come let 
her have the remainder of his wages, if not let it be bestowed 
to bring over his children, for so he desires. It would be 
about 40 loss to him to come for her." 

Moreover, in addition to this vigorous undertaking of 
White's, the Puritan movement had long had a strong 
support in Dorset in the increasingly numerous non-con- 
forming churches. Poole, possibly, was the earliest Dorset 
centre of dissatisfaction with either the Roman Catholic or 
the Protestant organization. One Thomas Hancock of that 
place was in the first year of King Edward VI " called to 
be minister of God's word at the town of Poole, which town 
was at the time wealthy, for they embraced God's word, 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 



163 



they were in favours with the rulers and governors of the 
realm, they were the first that in that part of England were 
called Protestants : they did love one another ; and every 
one glad of the company of the others ; and so God poured 
His blessing plentifully upon them." 

The domestic life of the period was largely a matter of 
small beer laced with spite. Individualists of to-day are 
rather apt to call upon the past to support their cries for 
liberty. They would find it hard to appreciate a condition 
of things in which the community as a whole had so much 
power as it had in Stuart times. A genuine conservative 
might indeed feel sympathy with the examiners of Roger 
Honiborne of Dorchester, who in 1630 affirmed that Robert 
Hoskins and Thomas Waite " were in Mr. Angell Greyes 
grounds of Kingston and fished in his waters and tooke 
fishe there," and wouldn't put them back again when 
Honiborne (who seems to have been a keeper of an early 
type) " willed " them to do so. But some of the more 
socialistic interferences with the liberty of the subject might 
prove displeasing. You were liable to be examined by the 
magistrates or " presented " to the parish or the justice 
for any trivial offence and that before the Puritans held 
the reins : and your examiners, the authorities of the 
community, had full power to do justice upon you. " Mary 
Tuxbury, for scolding at the sergeants ... is ordered to be 
plounced when the weather is warmer." Justice, but mercy 
. . . plouncing is ducking in the Frome. " Hugh Baker, 
carrier of this Borough, was complayned of to Mr. Maior that 
he went out of church yesterday at Morning Prayer before 
prayers were ended, and confesseth to the same, and is 
censured to sit in the stocks two houres for his misdemeanor " 
(1629). John Gape was summoned for playing " at the 
ball " in the prison court : Anthony Wood for saying to 
Matthew Swaffield " that his heart was so hollow that the 
Divell might dance in it." In 1630 the Justices had to hear 
this terrible story : " John Graunt upon oath. Yesterday 
coming from Weymouth, [Robert] George demanded of 



164 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Pouncy where he beloed like a calfe ; he said he was a man, 
and George said he was a puppy ; then Pouncy alighted 
from his horse and after divers speeches George strake 
Pouncy with a Cudgell." No wonder that in 1632 the sons 
of Roger and Thomas Pouncy (" greate boyes ") were fined 
12d. apiece, with others, for being absent from church and 
playing " at Nine Holes for money, a farthing a game.'* 
Yet one of them was put in the stocks for doing it again a 
few months later ; and Thampson Pouncy, " the wife of 
Thomas Pouncy the elder," shortly afterwards was plounced 
" three several times " as a common scold : and Thomas 
Pouncy the younger was charged in 1637 with being at the 
bull-baiting and " breaking the bullkeeper's head with 
his cudgell." A spirited family. 

And while I am dealing with names so well known still in 
Dorset and Dorchester, here is yet another of 1632. " William 
Hardy, gent, dwelling everywhere (as he said), charged 
with swearing eight oathes, and abused the constables, 
saying : ' that he durst say they weare all a company of 
dampned creatures and the divell would have them all, and 
called them cod's heads and sheepe's heads.' ' It cost him 
eight shillings and a day in gaol, from which he was released 
on " plenary confession."* 

I do not propose to dwell in detail on the historical events 
of this period. The county was fairly evenly divided in the 
Civil War. Like other counties, it had its grievances, 
particularly the extraction of shipmoney, the administration 
of the forest and highway laws, and the billeting of soldiers. 
No great battle was fought within its borders, but it was in a 
constant state of warfare. Corfe and Sherborne castles were 
duly besieged and " slighted." 

* The quotations are from the Dorchester Municipal Records, edited 
with loving care by Charles Herbert Mayo and Arthur William Gould 
(Exeter, 1908). That great Dorset antiquary, Mr. H. J. Moule, aided the 
project of publication. But it is clear from Mr. Gould's modest preface 
that most of the cost (apart from all the toil) of production fell on the 
Editors. This is a most valuable social document. When will the greatest 
country in the world be able, or feel able, to do for its local records what 
it has done for its State Papers ? 

A strange picture of the equally squalid party strife of this period is 
contained in the annotated edition of James Strong's Joanereidos. 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 165 

Lyme withstood a memorable siege. It was of high 
importance to Charles to win it ; Blake, who afterwards 
defeated Van Tromp off Portland, was one of the defenders. 
It is difficult to understand to-day how a town so situated 
at the very bottom of a steep cup could not be taken 
with some ease. But the defence was determined. The 
great historian of Lyme, Roberts, from whom Macaulay 
drew, without excessive acknowledgment or accuracy, his 
picturesque information, says that " the resistance of the 
townsmen was most obstinate : their courage was increased 
by the vehement harangues and violent rhapsodies of 
twenty-five puritanical preachers, who confidently assured 
eternal salvation to those who should fall in the contest." 
The women joined valiantly in the struggle. One lost a hand 
in conflict. All she said was " Truly, I am glad with all my 
heart I had a hand to lose for Jesus Christ, for whose cause I 
am willing to lose, not only my other hand, but my life also." 

Fairfax on the one side and Goring on the other encamped 
often within the county borders ; and Wareham and Poole 
Roundhead, in spite of an offer by the Marquis of Hertford 
to spend 200 a week there if it would change sides had 
their usual full share of any available fighting. William 
Wake, rector of Holy Trinity, Wareham (grandfather of 
a Dorset Archbishop of Canterbury), suffered exceptionally. 
He was first shot by a Parliamentary agent ; then cut over 
the head and left for dead : then sent prisoner to Dorchester, 
where he caught the plague. Meanwhile his family were 
turned out of doors and his goods seized. He was set free, 
joined the Royalists, was captured at Sherborne, stripped 
and paraded naked through the town, and sent prisoner, 
first to Poole, where plague was raging, and then to Corfe. 
When the main fighting was over, he retired to Blandford, 
but the Parliament men " kept him, a very infirm man, on 
their guards, and daily moved him with them as they were 
commanded from place to place." " He was nineteen 
times a prisoner in the time of the rebellion, and all that 
time under sequestration." 



166 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The Bridport records contain a valuable document on the 
realities of the taxation Charles I found it desirable to im- 
pose. It requires Dorset to provide a man-of-war of four 
hundred tons, one hundred and sixty men, guns and equip- 
ment, and victuals for twenty-six weeks : six or eight 
assessors were to supervise the levy. The alleged cause 
was " that certain pirates and sea robbers, both Mohametans, 
detesters of the Christian name, and others," had " collected 
together, robbing and spoiling the ships and goods not only 
of our own subjects but of the subjects of our allies upon the 
sea, which had been formerly accustomed to be guarded 
by the English nation." The order in which the municipal 
authorities of Dorset were addressed in this writ is curious, 
and perhaps significant : the towns run thus Poole, 
Dorchester, Wey mouth and Melcombe Regis, Bridport, 
Lyme Regis, Corfe Castle, Shaftesbury, Blandford, " the 
good men of Poole and of the Isle of Purbeck, of the Vills 
of Portland, Burton, Sherborne, Cranborne, and Stoborough, 
and all other places " : no \Vareham, no Wimborne. 

There was, however, one feature of the war in Dorset 
which deserves special notice : the rising of the Clubmen. 
This is sometimes spoken of as though it were the work of a 
rabble of irritated peasants, who simply desired to live and 
let live, and to keep their fields free of bloodshed. It was 
at least serious enough to cause both Fairfax and Goring 
to pay attention to it. It occurred in 1645. In that year, 
on May 25, a meeting of men from Dorset and Wilts was held 
at Badbury Rings ; neither the first nor the least resolute 
gathering in that ancient fortress. There were present 
" near 4000 armed with Clubs, Swords, Bills, Pitchforks, 
and other, several weapons, etc." The meeting declared, in 
resolutions read by one Thomas Young, that " our ancient 
laws and liberties . . . are altogether swallowed up in the 
arbitrary power of the sword," and covenanted, among other 
things, " to join with and assist one another in the mutual 
defence of our Liberties and Properties against all Plunderers, 
and all other unlawful violence whatsoever." Their 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 167 

immediate concern was to prevent violence. In every parish 
there was to be a committee of three, " for assistance and 
direction," with two constables to raise the alarm at any 
sign of tumult ; and all were to " furnish themselves with 
as much, and good, arms, weapons, and ammunition as they 
can procure." 

A few weeks later the inhabitants of Dorset petitioned 
the King himself ; " the petitioners, since these unhappy 
Civil Wars, having in a deeper measure than other subjects 
of this kingdom, suffered by means of the many garrisons 
within this little county (they being ten in number) and the 
armies partly drawn into these parts by reason thereof." 
Charles, in a statesmanlike reply filling several pages of 
print, said that the matter was receiving attention. So did 
Fairfax, when a deputation waited upon him also, and asked 
" that all laws not repealed be in force, and executed by the 
ordinary officers : that all men who desire it may lay down 
arms : and others, who have absented themselves from their 
homes, may have free liberty to return and live at home." 
Fairfax knew what civil war meant : he found at Dorchester, 
for instance ("a town famous for piety and good affection " 
to his cause), that " divers of the best inhabitants being 
forced from it, the beauty of the town is much impaired, 
and many houses empty." But how could he maintain 
an army, he asked in his reply, and so attain his just 
aims, if everyone went home ? Necessity . . . 

The deputation to him was led by men of good name. 
It contained a Trenchard and a Holies : John St. Loe, 
Peter Hoskins, Esquire, Master Robert Paulet, gent ; and 
" Master Thomas Young, an attorney, more eloquent 
than honest." I should like to know more of Master 
Thomas Young, the orator of Badbury : but history 
is silent. 

The chief recorded motto of the Clubmen was on one of 
their banners : 

" If you offer to plunder our cattle, 
Be assured we will give you battle." 



168 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The London news-sheets of the time regarded them as 
both partisan and dangerous ; but the alleged partisanship 
depended on the journal. " The Clubmen speak altogether 
the royal language, however they may seem to be neuter," 
says the True Informer. " The most eminent gentlemen, 
and others, for the King in those parts, are their leaders : 
neither are they without some from Oxford, the most notori- 
ously profane and noted wicked persons in that county and 
Wiltshire are among them, and but few either of seeming 
civility or religion." " There are Knights among them," 
cried the Moderate Intelligencer ; " they are armed very 
well." But the Scottish Dove said that " these men (as they 
first resolved, hold perfect neutrals) oppose free quarter by 
both sides, and yet accommodate either with provisions for 
money . . . which assures me their affections stand right 
to the Parliament." 

The elementary Soviet system did not live up to the hopes 
or fears formed of it. Cromwell himself arrived in August, 
1645, and persuaded one section to go quickly home. The 
rest encamped on Hambledon Hill, above the Stour. Crom- 
well demanded surrender, which was refused. Major Des- 
borough was ordered to approach and prepare to charge. 
The Clubmen fired, whereupon Desborough " got in the 
rear of them, beat them from the work, and did some small 
execution upon them ; I believe killed not twelve of them, 
but cut very many, and we have taken about 300 ; many 
of which are poor silly creatures, whom if you please to let 
me send home, they promise to be very dutiful for time 
to come, and will be hanged before they come out again." 

Cromwell, who wrote this, was made for larger wars 
and greater policies. It is suggestive to notice how intimate 
and petty and personal all the Dorset connection with the 
Civil War is. The county seems only to touch larger issues 
in a venture like White's, or in the supreme tragedy of 
" King Monmouth " ; though by a curious chance it may 
have had a vision of what was to come in the great world. 
It is recorded that " a very learned pious man," Mr. John 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 169 

Sadler of Warmwell, in 1661 prophesied to his Rector : 
he said a " Someone " in the room in which he lay ill told 
him " that there would die in the city of London so many 
thousands, mentioning the number, which I have forgotten, 
and the time that the city would be burnt down. . . . That 
we should have three sea-fights with the Dutch. . . . That 
afterwards there would come three small ships to land in 
the west of Wey mouth, that would put all England in a 
uproar, but it would come to nothing. That in the year 
1688 there would come to pass such a thing in this kingdom 
that all the world would take notice of it." It was, as the 
gentleman in Martin Chuzzlewit says, " a prediction cruel 
smart." 

But for one strange alarm Dorset had little to do with 
great events between the Restoration and the coming of 
Monmouth. That alarm was experienced at the time of 
the Gates affair. One Capt. John Laurence of Grange, in 
1678, reported that he had seen " a vast number of armed 
men, several thousands, marching from Flowers Barrow 
over Grange Hill ; and a great noise and clashing of arms 
was supposed to have been heard." People on the hills 
and the heath fled hastily to Wareham, which was barricaded. 
The militia were called out. And nothing was ever seen of 
the phantom army, to whose existence Laurence and his 
brother subsequently swore on oath before the Privy Council. 
Hutchins ascribes it to the effect of mist on the Purbeck 
rocks. 

It is not difficult to follow on foot the path of the two 
princes, father and son, who made Dorset notable in this 
seventeenth century. Charles II tried to leave England by 
way of the county in 1651. Monmouth entered England 
through it in 1685 and was captured within its borders a 
few weeks afterwards. 

The flight of Charles II through Dorset is adorned with 
many picturesque details. It was from Boscobel that he 
came to Col. Wyndham's house at Trent, a village near 
Yeovil, now part of Dorset. Mrs. Wyndham wrote the 



170 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

fullest of the accounts of his stay " in that Ark in which God 
shutt him up, when the Floods of Rebellion had covered the 
face of his Dominions." He arrived on September 17, 
and a secret chamber was kept in readiness for any 
emergency. His purpose was to take a boat from some 
western port to France. Apparently he was unaware that 
the western ports were full of Parliamentary troops preparing 
for an expedition to Jersey. He knew, of course, that there 
was a hue and cry after himself ; and at Lyme, there had 
just been set up a proclamation, dated September 10, in 
which " a heavy penalty was thundered out against all that 
should conceal the King or any of his party," and a price of 
1000 set upon Charles's person. 

At Trent, however, he seemed to be reasonably safe, and 
it was within easy distance both of the Dorset ports and of 
the Bristol Channel. His adventures in Dorset begin with 
a visit which Col. Wyndham paid to William Ellesdon of 
Lyme, one of a family long of repute in that town. Ellesdon 
was a known Royalist, and, as he himself says, " would with 
the utmost hazard of my person and whatsoever else was dear 
to me strenuously endeavour " to serve the King. Wynd- 
ham asked him to find a vessel for France, telling him the 
truth about the proposed passengers (Lord Wilmot was with 
Charles). Ellesdon had a sea captain, Stephen Limbry, 
as tenant of a house of his at Charmouth, and they rode over 
to see him. Limbry agreed to do the business for sixty 
pounds, payable on completion of the undertaking. He was 
master of " a small vessel of about thirty tons." 

Here there is some room for geographical conjecture. 
The arrangements made provided for embarking for Char- 
mouth " by the seaside." " Indeed," says Ellesdon, " a 
more commodious place for such a design could hardly be 
found, it lying upon the shore a quarter of a mile from any 
house, or footpath." Charmouth village was and is a quarter 
of a mile from the sea a peculiarity of distance shared in 
various degrees also by Abbotsbury, Swyre, Burton Brad- 
stock, Bridport town, and Chideock, along this coast. On 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 171 

the other hand Limbry's boat was moored off Lyme Regis 
Cobb, from two to three miles away. A little before the time 
appointed for departure, Limbry took the boat out " to 
the Cobb's mouth for fear of being beneaped." The Septem- 
ber neap tides are usually the lowest of the year, as the 
spring tides of the same month are the highest ; and at a 
neap tide all along that coast from Axmouth to Burton the 
moorings can hardly be reached or quitted because of the 
low water. 

Further, Ellesdon, riding back with Wyndham to Lyme, 
" chose the land road . . . that upon the top of a hill 
situate in our way betwixt these two towns, upon a second 
view he might be more perfectly acquainted with the way 
that leads from Charmouth to the place appointed for His 
Majesty's taking boat." The whole coast has altered since 
then : it has altered even so recently as 1921 ! The cliffs 
have fallen. The land where twenty-four years after Charles's 
flight Monmouth enrolled his poor peasants at Lyme is now 
beneath the sea. The road now known as the Devil's 
Bellows was not in existence in 1651. Charmouth stream, 
maybe, ran openly to the sea instead of burying itself in the 
shingle bank. 

I think that Charles was meant to be rowed from Char- 
mouth beach to Cobb's mouth, a stiff pull ; and that Ellesdon 
took Wyndham up to the still existing old high road, an 
inflexible steep track from which not only Charmouth but 
Lewsdon and Pilsdon and Marshwood Vale, and far more 
distant hills, and the most glorious curve of coast in England, 
are seen spread out in a magnificent pageant. There 
(among the bracken and blackberries which would conceal 
him as well as any Boscobel oak) well might the King of 
England look out over his realm with pride and love. 

The course of English history was very near deflection 
in the next few hours. Wyndham rode back to Trent. He 
sent a servant, Henry Peters, to the Queen's Arms at 
Charmouth to bespeak rooms for the fugitive while he waited 
for the boat. He was to represent Charles as a runaway 



172 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

lover eloping with his lady (who was to be played by Juliana 
Coningsby, Wyndham's niece). This was satisfactorily 
arranged over a glass of wine with the hostess. 

They set out in due course, Miss Coningsby riding pillion, 
Wyndham in front as guide, Wilmot and Peters a little 
way behind, " that they might not seem to be all of one 
company." Ellesdon met them, and took them to his 
brother's house at Monkton Wyld, a village to-day very 
beautifully placed among trees, just off the road from Char- 
mouth to Hunter's Lodge. (The brother is said in one account 
to have been " a violent Oliver ian.") It is impossible to 
tell, among the many lanes of Marshwood Vale, what roads 
were then in existence for them to follow, in the days before 
the main highways of the present time were even thought of. 
They may have gone along something like the present 
main road round the top of the vale, or even through 
Axminster. 

The king gave Ellesdon, for remembrance, a gold coin, 
" which in his solitary hours he made a hole to put a ribbin 
in." There were more solitary hours to come, but some 
of them full of fears lest the solitude be broken. At dusk 
they moved to Charmouth. The Queen's Arms is now 
a private house, marked by a commemorative tablet. 
Ellesdon had told Limbry, for the benefit of the crew, that 
his friend " Mr. Payne," a merchant Lord Wilmot and his 
servant (the King) wanted to sail by night because, " Lyme 
being a Town Corporate," " Payne " feared an arrest in his 
sudden voyage to St. Malo to recover property from a dis- 
honest factor. Limbry seems to have swallowed this tale. 
Unfortunately for the King, however, he did not warn his 
wife of his intended voyage till the last moment, when he 
went home to get some linen. Now she had been at Lyme 
Fair that day, and had read the proclamation of September 
10th : and she was not minded to lose her husband. She 
suspected his alleged cargo to be refugees from Worcester, 
to say the least ; and she locked her Stephen in, and " by 
the help of her two daughters kept him in by force." 






PRINCES IN FLIGHT 173 

Limbry seems to have done his best. He " showed his 
wisdom," Ellesdon said, " by his peaceable behaviour, for 
had he striven in the least it is more than probable that His 
Majesty and his attendents had been suddenly seized upon 
in the inn." But later on, apparently, he got some mitiga- 
tion of his duress ; for Wyndham, watching, in the moon- 
light, on Charmouth beach, for the boat that was to save his 
King, " discovers a man coming, dogged at a small distance 
by two or three women. This indeed was the master of the 
vessel, who by this time had obtained liberty (yet still under 
the eyes of his over-zealous keepers) to walk towards the 
seaside with an intention to make known to those that waited 
for him the sad tidings of this disappointment together with 
the causes." Wyndham thought the figure was Limbry 's, 
but was not certain, and dared not question him because 
of the women. 

It was one of many curiously suspicious mischances 
in Charles's flight. Half a dozen incidents seem to hint that 
everyone knew who he was, and many would help towards 
his capture, but none would commit the direct act of 
betrayal. 

One or other of the party waited on the beach all night 
for the boat which never came. Their horses were kept 
saddled, their gear not unpacked. In the morning Peters, 
Wyndham's servant, was sent to Ellesdon at Lyme to 
enquire what had happened. Charles and Wyndham and 
Miss Coningsby set off towards Bridport : Lord Wilmot was 
to follow them and meet them at the George in that 
town (now the frequented and pleasant shop of Mr. Beach) 
as soon as Peters came back with news. 

The news might well have been even more disturbing 
than, 'in the end, it was. The hostess of the Queen's 
Arms had lately taken on as an ostler an ex-service man 
(as we should say to-day) " a notorious knave," who, 
" perhaps inspired and prompted by the devil," called her 
attention to the strange behaviour of her guests. Ellesdon, 
in his narrative, half hints that she herself had some know- 



174 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

ledge of their identity. But she would not listen to Henry 
Hull the ostler. Henry, however, had to take Lord Wilmot's 
horse to be shod that morning ; and when Hammet the 
smith saw the hoofs, he exclaimed, " I am confident these 
shoes were made and set in the north." Thereupon Hull 
goes " to one Wesley, the puny parson of the place, and a 
most devoted friend of the parricides, to ask his advice."* 
Wesley was praying and could at first take no heed. But 
when his " long-breathed devotions " were over, he went at 
once to the host of the inn and " with most eager blattera- 
tions catechiseth him " ; and from him to Robert Butler, a 
justice, and a member of the Dorset Standing Committee, 
for a warrant to set people on to apprehending the King. 
Butler, it is said, refused. But Captain Massey or Macey, 
in charge of troops at Lyme, to whom Wesley then repaired, 
set off posthaste along the Bridport road with as many men 
as he could get together. 

I said " the host " was interrogated by Wesley. That 
is one account. Another is that the parson went to the 
hostess and said, " Why, how now, Margaret, you are a 
maid of honour now ! " She asked what he meant. " Why, 
Charles Stuart lay the last night at your house and kissed 
you at his departure, so that now you can't but be a maid 
of honour." Whatever Charles did or said, the hostess, 
according to this story, was on his side : " if I thought it 
was the King, I would think the better of my lips all days 
of my life ; and so, Mr. Parson, get you out of my house, 
or else I'll get those shall kick you out." 

Something of all these suspicions how much is not 
evident must have come to Wilmot's ears, for he and 
Peters set off in haste after Charles. The Charmouth- 
Bridport road in its present state was not constructed till 

* Bartholomew Wesley or Westley, John Wesley's great grandfather. 
"This Westley," says the author of Miraculum-Basilicon (1664) "is 
since a Nonconformist, and lives by the practice of physic in the same 
place. He told a good gentlewoman that he was confident, if ever the King 
did come in again, he would love long prayers ; for had he not been longer 
than ordinary at his devotions, he had surely snapped him." 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 175 

over a century later, but doubtless followed much the same 
natural lines up the long slow hill to Morecombelake, 
round the curve of Har Down (most unexpected and lovable 
of the sudden shaggy Dorset hills), down to little Chideock, 
up again, and down over the bridge past Allington into 
Bridport town, where the then George is almost at the 
main cross roads. 

In the paved yard which is still behind Mr. Beach's shop, 
Charles in his character of servant was tending his mistress's 
horse. The place was full of soldiers preparing for the 
Jersey expedition. To him one Horton the ostler, " Ho, 
friend ! I am glad to see thee here. I know you well ! " 
Charles did not accept the recognition. Horton explained 
that he had met him at Exeter, where he had been at an inn 
eleven years with one Mr. Porter. " And I likewise," said 
the prince, readily, " did serve Mr. Porter. I am glad that 
I have met with my old acquaintance ; but I see now thou 
art full of business, that thou canst not possibly drink with 
me ; but when I shall chance to return from London, we 
will talk more freely concerning our old affairs." 

Fortunately Lord Wilmot arrived with Peters just 
afterwards, and, spurred by his alarming news, the fugitives 
set forth again at once, taking the Dorchester road. They 
met many travellers, and among them one who was for- 
merly a servant of Charles I. One account puts this meeting 
between Charmouth and Bridport. But at any rate the 
risk of recognition was becoming menacingly real, and they 
resolved to take the next turning off the main road, " which 
might probably lead towards Yeovil or Sherborne," and so 
back to Trent. 

Mr. A. M. Broadley was instrumental in placing a stone 
slab to commemorate this " miraculous divergence." I 
cannot feel sure that his choice of the lane or of the quotation 
on the stone is correct. He cites Fuller's doggerel : 

" At Worcester great God's goodness to the Nation 
It was a Conquest Your bare Preservation. 
When midst Your fiercest foes on every side 
For your escape God did a LANE provide." 



176 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

It is quite true that Fuller, as rector of Broadwindsor, 
might know the more intimate details of Charles's adven- 
tures in Dorset. But it seems to me more likely that 
the " Lane " is not a road but a person Jane Lane, by 
whose aid he got safely away immediately after Worcester 
fight. 

Mr. Broadley insisted that the Lane is Lee Lane, a by- 
road running down to his own house at Bradpole. But that 
would not take the fugitives to Yeovil or Sherborne, except 
very indirectly even if the road then existed. It would 
take them into marshy ground north of Bridport. What 
looks like an older track, however, diverges from the main 
road at the same place, in a much more promising direction 
a disused broad path between hedges, which may well 
have been an ancient bridle track, pointing (and in fact 
leading) direct to the great land-mark of Eggardon which 
is on the way to Yeovil and Sherborne.* 

What is more, had they taken Lee Lane they would have 
found themselves almost immediately in Bradpole village ; 
whereas Mrs. Wyndham's account says they reached a 
village " after many hours' travel." The village was Broad- 
windsor. By following the track I have mentioned they 
would have come out on higher ground near Power stock, 
and might easily have wandered through the desolate 
wooded country near Hooke and Wraxall, as certain eminent 

* Ogilby's Traveller's Guide, a " description of England undertaken by 
the express command of King Charles II," describes (I quote the 1699 
edition) the road from Exeter to Dorchester. " At the end of Bridport an 
indifferent straight way by Walditch and Lytton Churches on the right, 
Long Lother and Askatham on the left." Long Lother is Loders ; and 
Lee Lane can only reach Loders deviously, whereas the deserted track I 
have mentioned goes close by Loders almost in a straight line. It is true 
that Denzil Holies in 1651 held the manor of Loders ; but he was not 
necessarily there, and Charles was not necessarily to know it if he was. 
Bradpole is not mentioned by Ogilby. Askatham I take to be Askerswell. 
The turning for Loders is given as at three furlongs from the bridge at 
Bridport ; that for Askerswell at two miles three furlongs. A hundred 
and more years later, the turnpike roads that still endure began to be 
constructed, and the mean byroads of to-day lost their then importance. 
It is much more likely that a track disused to-day is an old road of the pre- 
turnpike era than that a better engineered one now in use is of continuous 
ancestry. The present stretch of main road from the top of Chilcombe 
Down to Axminster was built in 1754. 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 177 

gipsies did later, without meeting a soul or seeing a house 
till they fetched up at Broad Windsor inn. 

At any rate, they found the inn in safety. If they had 
kept to the Dorchester road, Captain Macey would have 
caught them up. He was close upon their heels ; but he 
followed the main road, up over Askerswell Hill and on all 
the way to Dorchester, where, " with the utmost haste and 
diligence, he searched all the inns and alehouses " in vain. 

It chanced that the host of the George at Broad- 
windsor was an old servant of Wyndham's, one Rhys Jones. 
He gave them a private room. But they were not wholly out 
of danger. Many houses round Char mouth were being 
searched ; apparently it was common knowledge that Charles 
was somewhere in the neighbourhood. One party of soldiers 
came as near to Broad Windsor as Pilsdon Manor (owned by 
Wyndham's uncle), where they offered much indignity to 
the daughter of the house, believing that she was the prince 
in disguise. Gregory Alford (of whom more shortly) says 
that Ellesdon himself was in charge of this party, and was 
eager for the 1000 reward ; the assertion is hardly con- 
sistent with Ellesdon's own account, for he says that he 
knew from the first who the fugitives were ; and if so, he 
need not have postponed the betrayal. Alford hints at a 
possible reason for disloyalty : " Ellesdon was newly 
married to a very rich but rigid Presbyterian." Alford him- 
self was vigorous against Dissenters. 

But there was danger even nearer than Pilsdon. They 
had not been in the George long when the village con- 
stable arrived with forty soldiers for the Jersey expedition, 
whom he billeted on the inn. With them was a " leaguer- 
wench," a camp-follower so far gone towards motherhood 
that she bore a child in the inn that night. This " made the 
inhabitants very ill at ease, fearing the whole parish should 
become the reputed father, and be enforced to keep the 
child." Their uneasiness was fortunate, because it led to a 
hot argument between the parish and the troops, and allowed 
the royal party to relax their vigilance and consider their 



178 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

position. They thought it " very hazardous to attempt 
anything more in Dorsetshire " ; and after resting, left the 
house quietly at dawn and returned without mishap to 
Trent. Charles remained there undisturbed save for one 
alarm about some mysterious troops at Sherborne till 
October 6th, when he set out for the coast again : this time 
more successfully, for he sailed from Brighton for France 
on October 15th. 

I have mentioned Gregory Alford. He is a Dorset link 
between this flight of Charles II and the adventures in the 
county of his wretched son, James Scott, Duke of Mon- 
mouth, at this time only a year-old baby. When the 
Dorset plan was first mooted, Col. Wyndham rode off 
to Giles Strangways at Melbury Sampford, thinking him 
a knowledgeable person who could find a boat, and also 
a financial supporter. But Col. Strangways' father was 
still living.* " He had no great command of money." 
Moreover, most of his seafaring acquaintances were " for 
their loyalty banished." He managed, however, to furnish 
100 for the King's use, and he advised Wyndham to try 
either Gregory Alford or William Ellesdon, both of Lyme. 
But Alford was in Portugal, " forced," he says, " to be 
abroad by reason of his loyalty." 

Now Alford had married the daughter of one George 
Potter of Exeter ; and the Bridport ostler Horton had been 
in George Potter's service. It was in that service, Horton 
said to Charles in the yard of the George inn, that they had 
formerly met ! 

Gregory Alford prospered, it seems : and he was able to 
show his loyalty to the Stuart dynasty later, for it was he 
who, as the zealous mayor of Lyme, did so much to frustrate 

* John Strangways, buried with others of his notable family in the 
little church at Melbury Sampford, close to the great house. His Latin 
epitaph records that he was " faithful to the King for whom he stood up, 
boldly and continuously, throughout the severest hardships, while the 
internecine conspiracy was at its height ; suffering the loss of his private 
possessions, imprisonment, and every indignity, with the greatest fortitude, 
and now " at the date of his death, at the age of eighty-two, on December 
30, 1666 " beholding the restoration of King Charles II." 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 179 

Monmouth's rebellion by sending early word of his landing 
to London. 

It was on June 11 (June 21, " N.S."), 1685, that "a 
ten-oared boat landed three gentlemen [from three ships off 
Lyme] at daybreak at Seatown [under Golden Cap]. They 
asked some fishermen, while they treated them with bottles 
of Canary and neats' tongues, what news there was ; who 
said they knew none, but they had heard there was a 
rebellion in Scotland by the Earl of Argyle." Two went 
towards Taunton, and the third Colonel Venner, who 
appears at Bridport a few days later re-embarked. 

The local surveyor of customs heard of it, and became 
suspicious. He told the mayor of Lyme, Alf ord. The surveyor 
of Lyme had already put off to examine the vessels, and 
had not returned. Later in the day, towards evening, a 
newsletter from London arrived with the intelligence that 
three boats well armed had sailed from Holland, ostensibly 
for the Indies, but probably in reality for England, bearing 
the Duke of Monmouth. 

Gregory Alf ord and his friends were uneasy. They would 
have summoned the boats to salute if there had been any 
powder for the town guns ; but there was not. Suddenly 
they saw seven boatloads of men fully armed rowing ashore. 
The town drums were beaten, and the deputy-surveyor 
with a few seamen ran to the Cobb, procuring a little 
powder on the way from a West India merchant, and hand- 
ing it over to a magistrate. He was too late for any resist- 
ance. The Duke's men were ashore, escorted by townsmen 
crying, "A Monmouth! a Monmouth the Protestant 
religion ! " 

They proceeded to enlist men in a field on the Church 
Cliffs. " The Duke was in purple, with a star on his breast, 
wearing only a sword." He said he had arms enough for 
twenty or thirty thousand men. A long and wordy Declar- 
ation was read, calling King James " a murderer and an 
assassin of innocent men; a Popish usurper of the Crown; 
Traitor to the Nation, and Tyrant over the People." 



180 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The Duke's welcome was of a mixed character. A good 
number of peasants joined him at once ; by June 12 he 
had 1000 foot and 150 horse. He does not seem to have had 
arms for more than twice that number at most (he had 
to turn hundreds away), and he was not well provided with 
money. Nor did the gentry join him as he hoped ; James 
had been vigilant : some were arrested, some fled. In the 
meantime the mayor of Lyme also fled : Lyme was now 
hardly safe for him. But before he fled he despatched the 
active deputy-surveyor of customs to London with a letter 
to the King, reporting the invasion. 

The next day men still flocked in Daniel Defoe was one 
of them and there were soon sufficient for the formation of 
four regiments, the Blue, the Yellow, the White, the Green.* 

Then came a futile reconnoitring visit to Bridport, and 
" Edward Coker, Gent, second son of Captain Robert Coker 
of Mapowder, was slain at the Bull Inn, by one Vernier," as 
the brass in the parish church and a rubbing of it at the 
Bull testify. The fighting is said to have been very hot 
while it lasted, but it seems to have been purposeless and 
indiscriminate. Local tradition says that the invaders 
pushed James's men up the steep Bothenhampton Hill 
(above the present village, to the north and east of it), and 
fought so fiercely that the lane up which they struggled a 
narrow path between hedges now ran with blood. It is 
called Bloody Lane to this day. But after a short time 
both sides, according to the written accounts, seem to have 
lost their heads. Lord Grey and his horsemen " ran and 
never turned till they came to Lyme." Venner, being left 
in command, was wounded, and rode after Grey. But Wade 
continued an intermittent attack, gradually retreating, 
while, on the other hand, " the militia remained contented 
with having reoccupied the centre of the town, and shouting, 
out of musket shot, at Monmouth's men." 

* Their memory lived long. Roberts, the historian of the rebellion, 
writes : " the generation has passed from us, whose countenances glowed 
at any mention of the Blue and the Yellow regiments, in which their 
fathers and grandfathers served with their darling Mon mouth." 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 181 

On June 1 5th the little army left Lyme and Dorset ; many 
to return only to the justice of Lord Jeffreys. The inept 
manoeuvres and fighting which ended miserably at Sedge- 
moor need not be described here. It is estimated that 
3200 men were in Monmouth's force on the dark morning of 
July 6, 1685, " many half drunk." 

The Duke came back to Dorset after the battle, in which 
he does not seem to have borne himself well. He re-entered 
the county, a fugitive, near Shaftesbury, and at Woodyates 
inn disguised himself as a shepherd. He was soon traced : 
the country was being beaten for him ; and there was a 
price of 5000 on his head. They found him " in a ditch 
covered with fern and brambles, under an ash tree ... in 
the last extremity of hunger and fatigue." (The remains of 
the alleged tree stood till recent times.) He could not even 
run away competently. He was taken first before Anthony 
Ettricke, of Holt Lodge, the magistrate whose curious 
coffin lies half inside, half outside Wimborne Minster ; and 
thence he was sent to Ringwood, and so to London. 

He was beheaded on Tower Hill less than a fortnight 
later. On the scaffold he bore himself with dignity and 
courage. He had need of all his courage. " The executioner 
had five blows at him ; after the first he looked up, and 
after the third he put his legs across, and the hangman flung 
away his axe, but being chid took it again, and severed not 
his head from his body till he cut it off with his knife." 

The executioner was John Ketch, immortal through his 
immediate passage into the newly introduced Punch and 
Judy show, and so into proverbial speech. He had already 
been accused, in 1683, of unnecessary brutality in the case 
of one of the Russells' (William Lord Russell), who had 
certainly been connected with Monmouth and Shaftesbury 
before they both fled from England, but was perhaps 
hardly guilty of the treason for which he was executed. 
Ketch, according to an " apologie " or defence alleged to be 
by himself, was drunk on that occasion, and did not hit 
straight. Russell, Ketch says, had given him ten guineas 



182 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

to make a quick job of it, and then would move about and 
not lie in the right position. Other accounts say that the 
executioner severed the head with two blows, a common 
necessity : Burnet, who was an eye-witness but could not 
bear to keep his gaze fixed on the sight, hints that he put 
the axe lightly against Russell's head as if to take aim, and 
may have touched him then, but took only one blow after- 
wards. 

Burnet also speaks in moving terms of Russell's fortitude. 
Monmouth's own fine demeanour at the last moment was 
at last equalled by that of his followers. They " nothing 
common did, nor mean." They made the usual simple pro- j 
testation of innocence or guilt, bared their necks, pulled aj 
cap over their eyes, and laid their heads " down, as upor i 
a bed" "rather to die like men than live like slaves." 

I give these and later gruesome details partly because ar 
age which has invented high explosive and poison gas, an< J 
still uses capital punishment and shrapnel and the bayonet ; 
has no right to be shocked at slightly less efficient methor t 
of taking life ; but mainly because they illustrate t 
complete acceptance of those methods by the people th i 
chiefly concerned. The proceedings were common fon. -. 
The British Museum has recently acquired a fine drawing! 
by Visscher, and his subsequent engraving, which show how 
well the routine was observed even many years earlier. 1 1 
is of the execution in 1606 of the Gunpowder Plot con-i 
spirators. Two or three prisoners, pinioned, on their back 
on flat wattle hurdles, are being drawn rapidly over thtj 
cobbles by horses, urged on by mounted grooms. A few s 
halberdiers keep back a curious crowd men, women, anc! 
children, some jeering, some cheering ; from the window } 
grave persons in large hats look down ; the inevitable do } 
intrudes. One prisoner is already dangling from the gallowvj 
he must die by suffocation, not dislocation, so short is the 
rope. Another, hanged, is on a table just beyond, a man 
with a knife busy " drawing " him, while one with an axe 
is about to sever a limb. Beyond again is a huge cauldron, 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 183 

from which an attendant is taking a tarred leg. There are 
bundles of faggots ready to feed the roaring fire under the 
cauldron, and a bent figure is hurrying up with a fresh 
bundle. 

" Decently and in order." ... It was only indecent dis- 
order that made Ketch pass instantly into a figure of 
ridicule and ill-fame. And Jeffreys has also passed into 
that grisly immortality. But it was probably not so much 
the punishments he ordained, in themselves, that made the 
Bloody Assize burn so long in Western hearts, as their 
number and the blind, deaf rage with which they were 
reached and delivered. 

Immediately after Sedgemoor the survivors of Mon- 
. *iouth's unhappy rabble had scattered and fled. Summary 
^ ustice, more or less in accordance with the civil law if 
j hey had been duly tried was done upon those whom 
] Lirke caught soon after the battle. They were hanged till 
c ley were almost dead, then cut down still living and 
Disembowelled ("drawn," as in Visscher's picture), the 
trails being burnt before their faces, and then quartered 
j., "he four parts to be disposed of at the pleasure of the King ; 
c td the Lord have mercy on your souls." 
] That may be considered merely as military fury. When 
.Jeffreys came on to Dorchester after the ghastly execution 
j f Alice Lisle at Winchester, the forms of law were more 
j.ully employed. The terrible judge he was really one of 
five attended Divine service in the parish church on 
; Friday, September 4th, 1685, and immediately afterwards, 
f in a court hung with red cloth, began his Assize. Two 
-hundred and ninety -two prisoners were sentenced within a 
( veek at Dorchester thirteen hanged by Monday the 7th ; 
{ he roll for the whole Western Assize containing 2611 
* lames. Three hundred and forty-five in all were Dorset 
men, and of these 74 were executed, 177 transported, 
9 whipped ; shopkeepers, tailors, mariners, weavers, shoe- 
makers, poor common men and lads and even boys. 

Jeffreys bullied witnesses and counsel alike ; guilt was 



184 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

predetermined. Often he foamed at the mouth in his 
frenzy. The very pleas for mercy were turned into cruel 
jests, as Macaulay records. John Bennett, whom he 
mentions, was a Lyme man ; John Tutchin, who had some 
connection with Bridport, and a Weymouth boy of fourteen, 
both noticed by Macaulay, were sentenced to be whipped at 
every market town in the county every year for seven 
years : a parson rebuked the gaoler for not whipping the 
boy hard. 

As I have suggested, care was taken to organize the 
functions properly. The authorities of Bath were ordered 
beforehand, by the high sheriff, to prepare gallows and 
halters, " with a sufficient number of faggots to burn the 
bowels, and a furnace or cauldron to boil their heads and 
quarters, and salt to boil them with, and tar to tar them 
with. You are also to provide an axe and a cleaver for 
quartering the said rebels." The quarters were distributed 
for widespread exhibition, even in places which the rebellion 
had not touched directly. Piddletown, for instance, got 
four quarters and a head : Winfrith the same : Weymouth 
(the Weymouth barber's apprentice mentioned above was 
whipped for leading Monmouth's proclamation, but the 
town was not itself implicated) sixteen quarters and six 
heads : the new post for two of the quarters cost Is. 6d. 

There can have been few villages in Dorset and Somerset, 
west of a line drawn from Bath to Wareham, which did not 
contain folk who had seen their friends' flesh displayed in 
public, or heard of the price paid for a kinsman's living body 
for toil in the plantations, or for a girl sold to a Court lady 
for a servant. Jeffreys' chair and a spike on which a rebel's 
head was set are still preserved at Dorchester in the museum 
opposite his house : it can hardly have been accident that 
has distinguished and kept them. Local memories show 
how deep and intimate was the touch of his work. One man 
(" Burn-guts ") sold furze to the authorities for burning 
rebel entrails : his horses one by one pined and died. A 
woman said it did her eyes good to see a very old man 



PRINCES IN FLIGHT 185 

called Larko hanged. She lost her sight within a short 
time. 

One man of Wareham, Thomas Delacourt, was present 
at the final stage in this horrible drama. Quarters of some 
of the victims were exposed on Bloody Bank at Wareham 
the place gets its name therefrom. Delacourt and some 
friends stole the remains and buried them. Delacourt was 
one of the first to join William of Orange, and went to 
London in his train : and it fell to him to be made sentry 
over Jeffreys when the judge, in the year of that more 
successful Revolution, was cast into the Tower, where he 
died. 

" Your Majesty may think it is the misfortune I now lie 
under makes me make this application to you, but I do 
assure your Majesty it is the remorse 1 now have in me of 
the wrong I have done you in several things, and now in 
taking up arms against you ; for my taking up arms, it was 
never in my thoughts since the King died ; the Prince and 
Princess of Orange will be witness for me of the assurance 
I gave them, that I would never stir against you, but my 
misfortune was such as to meet with some horrid people 
that made me believe things of your Majesty, and gave me 
so many false arguments, that I was fully led away to 
believe that it was a shame and a sin before God not to 
do it."* 

James II, it has been argued, never received that 
miserable letter, written by Monniouth at Ringwood soon 
after his capture : certainly the poor folk of the West 
who treasured his unhappy memory never heard of it. 

* From the Camden Society's Papers, 1879. 



An objection may perhaps be apprehended from the more delicate, that 
this dish is too common and vulgar ; for what else is the subject of all 
the romances, novels, plays, and poems, with which the stalls abound ? 
Many exquisite viands might be rejected by the epicure, if it was a 
sufficient cause for his contemning of them as common and vulgar, 
that something was to be found in the most paltry alleys under the 
same name. In reality, true nature is as difficult to be met with in 
authors, as the Bayonne ham, or Bologna sausage, is to be found in 
the shops." 

HENRY FIELDING, 

Tom Jones. 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 




THE eighteenth century, whose slim, elegant, dry 
hands still clutch our social order secretly and 
often, is a disease like the measles. Sooner or 
later all who are interested in the more humane letters 
catch it. My own long -past attack I can still regard with 
affection, and I like to see others succumbing to the infection, 
and exhibiting the symptoms in print. But I feel a little 
unhappy when I come, cured, and, I hope, immune from 
fresh attacks, to eighteenth-century Dorset. I see the 
ruffles, the grace, the domestic pomp, the complacency, the 
emergence of the bourgeois into a certain social autonomy, 
and, at the end, the legions thundering past, going decor- 
ously to death. I should once have liked to make that story 
either an epic or a triolet : it would have had to be one or 
the other, while the disease was still contagious : and now 
I can achieve neither. 

189 



190 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

There is,, it is true, an element of epic in the period, and 
that I have cut off bodily and made into a separate chapter, 
in defiance of chronological order. The seamen of the Dorset 
littoral have always been heroic venturers. In what 
remains after the mariners have been detached, there are, 
between 1688 and about 1831, three important threads in 
Dorset life, all woven together, but making a pattern which 
is^more easily understood in the separate threads than in the 
complete design. There is the social side of life, lived by 
the gentry and middle classes ; there is the agricultural 
interest, developing, from the capitalist point of view, 
almost incredibly during this epoch and altering the whole 
condition of rural life in England ; and there are the 
cheerful semi-domestic scenes which close the century 
with the appearance of Farmer George at Wey mouth. I 
cannot make any one of these spheres of activity (the cant 
phrase) either wholly epic or wholly elegant. But if I take 
them separately and again independently of chronological 
order it may be possible to provide some sort of per- 
spective view of the whole. 

There are indeed plenty of eminent social figures in the 
county's life under Anne and the Georges. But I will 
begin with one of the less fashionable of them one whose 
labours make possible the knowledge of all the rest. 

The life and work of John Hutchins, the historian of 
Dorset, are a genuine monument of the most liberal side 
of the eighteenth-century spirit. The very self-satisfaction 
of the period itself became a virtue for his benefit. Once a 
proposal was approved in the correct quarters, the Nobility 
and Gentry could not but exhaust the resources of polite 
learning in forwarding the cause. This son of "an honest 
parochial priest, a character esteemed by all good men, and 
reverenced even by the profane," accomplished a great 
work, modestly, sincerely, and finally, in no small measure 
because social conditions allowed him leisure and encouraged 
his activities. 

He was born in 1698, and educated at the excellent 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 191 

grammar school at Dorchester. He had the unusual ex- 
perience of being at two colleges at Oxford and at two 
universities at Hart Hall and Balliol, Oxford ; he took 
his B.A. degree there, and his M.A. degree at Cambridge. 
He was admitted to Holy Orders about 1723, and became 
" curate and usher " to the pluralist who was at that time 
vicar of Milton Abbas and master of the ancient grammar 
school there : a school subsequently transferred to Wimborne 
and of high repute all through the West in later years. 

It was through the liberality and help of two friends, 
Jacob Bancks and Browne Willis, that he undertook what 
even the austere Dictionary of National Biography calls 
" this noble history." He seems to have been ill-fitted for 
the duties of a parish priest. " He deserved the character 
of a sound Divine rather than of an eminent preacher. 
His delivery was no ways engaging ; and his discourses were 
not generally adapted to the capacity of his hearers." 
Later in life he suffered from gout, bad sight, deafness, and 
failing voice. He seems to have incurred the disapproval 
of his parishioners at Wareham, which living he held, in 
the common eighteenth-century way, together with that of 
Swyre. He was also for a time rector of Melcombe Horsey. 
He died in 1773. " The profit arising from his history was 
the chief provision he made for his family. Whether the 
benefit already received, or hereafter expected from hence, 
be sufficient to encourage others to engage in a like laborious 
undertaking, is a question much to be doubted."* 

Two incidents in his life at Wareham are as typical 
of his period as his historical labours. Almost the entire 
town was burnt to ashes in 1762. The Dorset towns and 
villages of to-day owe much of their architectural charm 
to those otherwise unhappy fires : Blandford, Beaminster, 
much of Bridport and Dorchester, the best of Wareham, 
rose from their ashes. 

The fire, incidentally, almost cut short the History. 

* The quotations are from the biographical notice in the standard and 
last edition of the History. 



192 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The rectory was burnt, and only " the care and presence of 
mind of Mrs. Hutchins, not without hazard to herself " 
the historian himself being absent, presumably on one of his 
many necessary journeys to collections of books and 
archives elsewhere saved the MS. 

The other event of note was his engagement of a curate 
to take his duty during absence in London and Oxford. 
" He was mistaken in his man. His friends informed him 
he had engaged a Methodist, but ho proved to be a madman. 
Yet his noise procured him admirers, and in so high a degree, 
that, had he been dismissed absolutely on the return of the 
rector, there had been an open rupture between the minister 
and many of his parishioners, who entered into a voluntary 
subscription to support their favourite lecturer. He 
[Hutchins] judged so well of the temper of his people that 
he appeased the storm by not resisting it ; and in a little 
time the poor man was confined in a madhouse, and Mr. 
Hutchins at ease by the good offices of a more regular 
assistant." 

This distrust of " enthusiasm "... I am reminded of 
one of the inimitable Browne and Sheridan epitaphs in 
Frampton Church. The family even in the nineteenth 
century kept up the eighteenth-century mode in their 
obituaries, and it is recorded of one of them that she was 
" polite without flattery, generous without ostentation, 
pious without enthusiasm." 

I shall deal briefly later with the Dorset activities of the 
greatest of all " enthusiasts," John Wesley, the descendant 
of the Char mouth parson. Vigour not less notable than his, 
but of quite another kind, was displayed by two of the more 
eminent social figures in the county's history. In writing 
of Shaftesbury I have mentioned the behaviour of two 
" nabobs " who devoted their wealth to politics. The 
perfect nabob of all time was a Dorset man. 

From about the year 1675 onwards to that of the glorious 
Revolution, the Honourable East India Company showed an 
increasing anxiety about the activities of a certain " inter- 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 190 

lopor " in Bengal. He was trading there and trading 
successfully in spite of their exclusive charter. " Send him 
home," they instructed their local Councils. The Councils 
conveyed this wish to the interloper, and he promised to 
go home. But he was " a fellow of a haughty, huffying, 
daring temper," and he didn't go. On the contrary, he 
visited certain towns " in great state, with four or five 
files of soldiers in red coats, well armed, and great attendance 
of native soldiers, with trumpeters, and taking up his 
quarters with the Dutch, by the name of the New Company's 
Agent, bespattering the Old Company." 

The enterprising competitor was at length apprehended 
and fined 1000. But the Company for some obscure 
reason remitted 600 of this, and in November, 1688, 
admitted him into their freedom gratis. This seems to have 
been a futile proceeding (unless the records themselves err 
in regard to dates) ; for intermittently during the next 
six years the same complaints of interloping were made, 
and the same successful competition carried on. In the 
intervals of making money, the ingenious gentleman re- 
turned to his native place, Blandford St. Mary's, in Dorset, 
and among other proceedings, got himself elected Member of 
Parliament for Old Sarum, a political unit with a somewhat 
lurid history. His epitaph in the parish church suggests 
that his efforts in church restoration carried him to a 
heavenly mansion : there is no housing or population 
problem in heaven if his actual achievements suffice to 
get him a mansion. 

Finally, Thomas Pitt (for that was his name) was appointed 
by the Company itself ! President of Fort St. George, 
which now we know better as Madras : to the scandal of 
the shareholders, who at the next election turned out 
eighteen of the Committee which appointed him. By a 
delightful irony, one of the Nabob's chief troubles while 
in office was the activity of another interloper his own 
cousin, John Pitt. His orders to Cousin John come well 
from the former " New Company's Agent " : "If you 



194 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

pass by here you must behave yourself very civilly, no 
drums, flags nor trumpets within our bounds, for here shall 
be but one Governor whilst I am here."* 

It was while he was Governor that he acquired the 
famous Pitt Diamond, whose curious adventures are a 
solace to the superstitious. He paid 20,400 for it : it was 
sold to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, in 1717, 
for about 135,000 (2,000,000 livres).t It cost 5000 to cut, 
and the chips alone yielded 8000. Pitt was suspected of 
having obtained it by crooked means, but was able to dis- 
prove the charge. He collected many other stones, and by 
his indubitable commercial genius amassed a large fortune, 
which he invested in many estates in England, among 
others that of Woodyates in Cranborne Chase. The rest of 
his life, for all practical purposes, was spent in politics. He 
died in 1726. He begat Thomas Pitt, Baron Londonderry, 
governor of the Leeward Islands ; John Pitt, governor 
of the Bermudas ; a daughter who married the first Earl 
Stanhope ; and (his eldest son) Robert Pitt. Robert Pitt 
begat William Pitt, Secretary of State, first Earl of Chatham 
(" My Lord, I am s-ure I can save this country, and no one 
else can "). William Pitt begat William Pitt, First Lord of 
the Treasury (" England has saved herself by her courage : 
she will save Europe by her example "). Government w T as 
inherent in the family, like writing in that of the Sheridans, 
who also, resident aliens till they became acclimatized, 
dwelt in Dorset. 

There had been Pitts in Dorset for at least a hundred 
years. One, born at Blandford in the same year as Thomas 
Pitt, but apparently only distantly related, was an extremely 
competent physician and writer. He upheld and it needed 
support in his day the professional point of view. His 
work on The Graft and Frauds of Physic Exposed was a 
vigorous assault on quackery, and what we should call patent 

* The quotations and most of the information are from the Hakluyt 
Society's edition of the Diary of William Hedges, edited by Col. Yule. 

f Napoleon, Thomas Pitt's great-grandson's mortal enemy, had it set 
in the hilt of his sword. 






I THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 195 

edicines, and ill-equipped compounding of prescriptions. 
Another of the name and family was Christopher Pitt, a 
none too exciting poet, rector of Pimperne 1722-68 : "he 
lived innocent and died beloved." Of yet another I speak 
i/ter. 

But Dorset did not produce Pitts alone. It gave England 
mother illustrious family of administrators. John Churchill, 
Duke of Marlborough, was the son of Sir Winston 
Churchill of Dorset and of St. John's College, Oxford, 
lis Winston Churchill (by marriage and circumstances 
iter transplanted across the border a few miles into Devon) 
ras a prominent Royalist in Dorset during the Civil War, 
uid afterwards M.P. for Weymouth and Lyme in turn, 
'he name of Churchill in those days had some variety of 
connotation. Marlborough's sister was a mistress of James 
[I ; Churchill the bookseller, Dunton's friend, was the son of 
Churchill of Dorchester, for which he was afterwards 
i.P. ; Charles Churchill's respectable fame as a general 
ras to be overshadowed by his great brother's ; and yet 
mother son of Sir Winston, George, the admiral, " governed 
;he navy as his brother governed the army." 

Neither the prototypical Nabob nor the nabobs of Shaftes- 
>ury, however, were the finest fruit of political life in that 
mtury. The most swollen figure of a diseased political 
was the man Dodington. George Bubb Dodington 
it a possible name ? He himself eventually improved upon 
it, at any rate, for he concealed it under the title of Lord 
[elcombe. It began originally as George Bubb, tout 
>urt, for his father was said to be Jeremias Bubb, an apothe- 
?ary of Weymouth : alleged also in other quarters to have 
>een by race Irish, which might account for his son's singular 
;ift for devious politics. An uncle died and left to George, 
he was about twenty-nine, the estate of Eastbury in 
Dorset, and a large fortune, whereupon, being already M.P. 
>r Winchelsea, he commenced wire-puller in a more 
Ivanced degree. 
I do not propose to go into the obscure and disingenuous 



196 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

policies Dodington pursued, first in Walpole'e behalf, and 
afterwards against him, and from time to time on whatever 
side suited his love of secret importance. But some account 
of his activities, fortified by quotations, may be of use in 
illuminating the political aspect of country life. 

The main part of his celebrated but very dull Diary 
begins, for all practical purposes, with the offer in 1749 of a 
peerage by Frederick, Prince of Wales when he came to 
the crown : " and I give you leave to kiss my hand upon it 
now, by way of acceptance ; which I did accordingly." He 
was appointed " treasurer of the chamber," in which 
capacity he afterwards was present, with at least fourteen 
other persons, at the birth of Prince Frederick William, 
whose mother, he says, gave him to the world " without once 
complaining or groaning the whole time." 

The Prince also promised to provide for Dodington' s 
friends : which promise he duly conveyed to at least one 
of them at Eastbury, a Mr. Bance, who " received my 
narrative with great pleasure." Dodington gave Bance 
the alternative of " the reversion of the Remittances, or 
of the Board of Trade." The wise Bance said " he should 
choose the Remittances, and to have the secret and govern- 
ment of the bank, as what he thought would render him most 
useful to his friends ; to which I agreed, and promised to 
undertake the affair with the prince." And so ad infinitum. 

Unfortunately for these patriotic enterprises, Prince 
Frederick, to Dodington's mortification, had the same 
experience as Captain Blifil. In 1751, " while he was 
buried in deep contemplations of this kind, one of the most 
unlucky as well as unseasonable accidents happened to 
him." He died. Dodington attended the funeral in an 
official capacity, on a very wet day in a very wet season, 
the neglect of formality in the treatment of the mourners 
being such that " there was not the attention to order the 
Green-cloth to provide them a bit of bread ; and these gentle- 
men, of the first rank and distinction, in discharge of their 
last sad duty to a loved and loving master, were forced to 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 197 

bespeak a great cold dinner from a common tavern in the 
neighbourhood." It is a grievous picture. 

" Here lies Fred, 
Who was alive and is dead ; " 

and round " the corpse and bowels " (I am not sufficiently 
expert in the details of interment to say why Dodington 
separates them thus) were gathered all the wire-pullers, all 
the flunkeys, all the place-hunters, with not a crumb to eat, 
getting wet through in their fine raiment. 

I wish the diarist had identified the tavern : it was 
somewhere near Westminster Abbey and the House of 
Lords ; and I wish it, not because I want to picture the 
persons of quality in draggled finery sitting at mean tables 
in a sanded parlour, but because the Board of Green Cloth 
at the last moment, at three o'clock, " vouchsafed to think 
of a dinner, and ordered one but the disgrace was complete, 
the tavern dinner was paid for, and given to the poor." I 
should like to hear the conversation of the poor on that 
occasion : it would be real history. 

But though he lost, for the time, that hope of elevation, 
Dodington commanded votes. The borough of Weymouth 
was in his pocket, and he had much influence in all the 
Dorset seats. He arranged, at the Antelope in Dor- 
chester, with " Lord Milton, Messrs. Drax, Trenchard, and 
most of the Whig party," for the election of Knights of the 
Shire in 1753. " There could be no doubt of the Whigs 
carrying the election if they resolved upon it, because, to 
my knowledge, two-thirds of the property of the county 
were in their hands, and because I had carried it for Mr. 
Pitt's father (who was scarcely capable) when our property 
was considerably less." He had pledged his interest to 
Lord Digby against Mr. Pitt. 

A little later, to secure the favour of the Duke of New- 
castle, he was offering to pay (" and not bring him a bill ") 
" those who would take money " at Bridge water and Wey- 
mouth : and he specially recommended " my two parsons " 



198 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

of those places. The Duke " entered into it very cordially, 
and assured me that they should have the first Crown livings 
that should be vacant in their parts." Dodington held 
Weymouth successfully for the Duke, but not Bridge water. 
The effort cost him 2500. A few months later he writes of 
"the insufficiency, falseness, and meanness" of the Duke's 
administration. He changed sides several times thereafter. 
His intrigues bore the usual fruit. He got his peerage in 
1761, and died childless the next year. His monstrous 
house in Dorset, built by the ponderous Vanbrugh, and 
decorated by Sir James Thornhill of Weymouth, was pulled 
down in great part by his heir. It had " an enormous 
portico of Doric columns ascended by a stately flight of 
steps." It was "gilt and finished with a profusion of 
finery, that kept no terms with simplicity, and not always 
with elegance or harmony of style." Dodington was of 
vulgar taste in such matters ; " his bulk and corpulency 
gave full display to a vast expanse and profusion 
of brocade and embroidery." He had " a passion for 
magnificence and display." " Of pictures, he seemed to 
take hie estimate only by their cost." But " he made more 
display at less cost than any man in the Kingdom." At 
any rate, he did not waste his money on mere pictures. He 
had none on his walls. Instead, " he had stuck up immense 
patches of gilt leather shaped into bugle horns upon hang- 
ings of rich crimson velvet, and round his state bed he dis- 
played a carpeting of gold and silver embroidery, which too 
glaringly betrayed its derivation from coat, waistcoat and 
breeches by the testimony of pockets, button-holes and, 
loops, with other equally incontrovertible witnesses, sub- 
pcena'd from the tailor's shopboard. When he paid his 
court at St. James' to the present queen upon her nuptials, 
he approached to kiss her hand in an embroidered suit of 
silk with lilac waistcoat and breeches, the latter of which in 
the act of kneeling forgot their duty, and broke loose from 
their moorings in a very indecorous and uncourtly manner." 
" Being a man of humble birth, he seemed to have an innate 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 199 

respect for titles, and none bowed with more devotion to the 
robes and fasces of high rank and office." 

The criticisms are by the irascible Sir Fretful Plagiary 
Richard Cumberland. Even if they are exaggerated, they 
can hardly do much injustice to the author of that astonish- 
ing Diary. But it must not be forgotten that he was an 
active and not wholly tasteless patron of literature, by no 
moans negligible as a writer, widely read, versatile in manner 
(now, according to Cumberland, " snoring in his lethargic 
way," and at the next moment " setting the table in a roar " 
by his wit), subtle but clear-headed. 

An election account of 1784 may serve to show how a 
politician of that century commanded success. Mr. John 
Bond and Mr. Henry Bankes were in that year elected 
members for Corfe Castle (whose later loss of all Parlia- 
mentary representation roused the anger of the gentry), 
and returned, among other items, the following expenses : 

To 5 Half Hogsheads of Beer on the Election s ' d ' 

Day . . ... . . . . 10 

To the Poor . . . . . . . . 10 10 

To 45 Voters at 13s. each 29 5 

Dinners on the Election Day . 10 16 10 \ 
To Servants at the Ship . 010 6 J 

Musick 20 

To Two persons to protect the Beer . 26 

The association of another historical figure with Dorset 
is not quite so definite, though I believe it to be certain. 
Matthew Prior is said to have been born near Wimborne, 
the son of a carpenter.* His own connection with the 
county is slight. His uncle Arthur and his cousin Catherine 
were brought into nearer and unhappy relation with it. 
Arthur kept the Rummer tavern in London, a " great resort 
of wits " : he often visited Wimborne for a holiday. His 
daughter was too attractive to be safe in London. So "to 

* The story that he fell asleep over a chained book in Wimborne Minster 
Library, and let his candle burn a hole in the page (still exhibited) has been 
proved untrua. 



200 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

secure her virtue " he sent her to Wimborne, " where she 
was a blazing star for some time." " But it proved too late ; 
one Grey of Yorkshire," says Conyers Place, " called then, 
I remember, the Great Grey, followed her, and attended her 
here with his coach and six, whence he carried her off." 

I wonder if the report of that " blazing star " had any- 
thing to do with the wretched career of Mary Channing. 
Her parents took the opposite course to Arthur Prior's, at 
any rate. They bred her at Dorchester in the usual way as 
regards education, and had her taught to read and write 
with " a proficiency suitable enough to one of her sex " ; but 
they added the accomplishment of dancing, and sent her to 
London and Exeter to see the world. When she came back 
she went to many jovial parties with her neighbours, and at 
one of them met an unnamed gallant, on whom she speedily 
" doated," giving him presents, entertaining him to wine at 
inns, even contriving to hold a ball in his honour : she 
robbed her parents for the money for this happiness. They 
took action at length, and tried to make her marry Thomas 
Channing, a respectable young man of Maiden Newton. 
She refused. But she found that her lover would not marry 
her, and at last she yielded and married Channing. She 
spent thirteen weeks of more or less riotous living as his wife, 
and then poisoned him. She was tried and found guilty : 
h r execution was deferred to let her give birth to a child. 
In 1706 came the end, which can best be given from the 
placid contemporary record. " After the under-sheriff had 
taken some refreshment, she was brought out of prison, and 
dragged by her Father's and her Husband's Houses, to the 
Place of Execution [Maumbury Rings.] She manifested 
nothing of Alteration when fixed to the Stake, but justified 
her Innocence to the very last, and left the World with a 
Courage seldom found in her Sex. She being first strangled, 
the Fire was kindled about five in the Afternoon, and in the 
sight of many thousands of Spectators she was consumed to 
Ashes." 

A pleasanter picture of the county is given by Defoe, who 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 201 

traversed it in his journey to Land's End. He entered it, 
in 1705, from the New Forest, by way of Wimborne, thence 
to Poole, notable for " the best and biggest oysters in all 
this part of England," and so on to Weymouth. From 
Wey mouth he went to Dorchester, which pleased him, in 
spite of his being summoned before the Mayor as a " dis- 
affected person." He found men of all religions dwelling 
together in unity, " drinking tea together, and conversing 
with civility and good neighbourhood. There is good 
company, and a good deal of it ; and a man that coveted a 
retreat in this world might as agreeably spend his time as 
well in Dorchester as in any town I know in England." An 
old resident has told me that precisely the same amiable 
intercourse existed there in the mid- Victorian era. 

He was immensely struck by the richness of the down 
soil and the admirable sheep. " The grass or herbage of 
these downs is full of the sweetest and most aromatic plants, 
such as nourish the sheep to a strange degree." They " are 
all fine carpet-ground, soft as velvet, and the herbage sweet 
as garden herbs, which makes their sheep be the best in 
England, if not in the world, and their wool fine to an 
extreme." He was told that within six miles every way of 
Dorchester there were 600,000 sheep ; and he was fain to 
believe it. (Fielding, in his last journey, touched at Port- 
land and wanted to buy a whole sheep, so sweet was the 
mutton. Portland had and has its own breed of sheep a 
small, very perfect species.*) 

Defoe visited also Portland and Abbotsbury ("a town 
anciently famous for a great monastery, and eminent for 
nothing but its ruins ") and went on to Bridport " a pretty 
large corporation town on the seashore, though without a 

* Macready, who had a house at Sherborne for many years, and con- 
ducted an evening school there, found the Portland mutton expensive 
at one time. "We dined," he writes in 1815, "at the Royal Hotel a 
dinner which, from the impudent extravagance of its charge, would cause 
us to remember Weymouth, if all else were to be forgotten. In a dull 
dingy room, looking out on the back of the premises, with ordinary table 
service, for a haddock, leg of Portland mutton, apple tart, bottle of Madeira 
(charged 8s.), bottle of port (6s.), a bill was presented me of 2 11 s." But 
the same meal (wine apart) only cost him 5s. in 1850 ! 



202 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

harbour." He describes the method of mackerel fishing : 
it is still in use. Mackerel were bought and sold on the shore 
" a hundred for a penny." Something like that price still 
prevails at rare intervals. And thence he passed out of the 
county by way of Lyme, whose Cobb impressed him 
mightily. He notes that pilchard fishing began there 
the first stage on the western grounds for that fish. 

What struck him most forcibly, however, was the be- 
haviour of the gentry in Dorset " some of the most polite 
and well-bred people in the isle of Britain." " They seem 
to have a mutual confidence in and friendship with one 
another, as if they were all relations." (Coker put it a little 
more strongly in 1732 ; he said they were all relations, 
through countless intermarriages ; and the pedigrees given 
in Hutchins bear this out.) As for the ladies of Dorset, they 
" do not seem to stick on hand " they " are equal in beauty 
and may be superior in reputation " to all the ladies who go 
to the play or the assembly elsewhere. 

He noticed also the great local industry of knitting stock- 
ings, and the fine bone lace of Blandford (he apparently 
went on expeditions from time to time off his main route), 
and cloth-making at Shaftesbury and Sherborne. But the 
stocking trade was " much decayed by the increase of the 
knitting-stocking engine or frame, which has destroyed the 
hand-knitting trade for fine stockings through the whole 
Kingdom." 

A somewhat similar picture of an established and com- 
placent gentry is given in the unpublished diaries of John 
Richards of Warmwell, which are quoted in the Proceedings 
of the Dorset Field Club. They cover the years from 1697 
to 1701. Richards coursed with greyhounds he had a 
great match with Mr. Gundry in Fordington Field bred 
fighting-cocks, and betted at the Antelope in Dorchester 
on the races. He kept ferrets, grew corn, bred sheep, drank 
punch, visited his neighbours, had the gout ; and on one 
occasion he warned a huntsman with a pack of hounds off 
his wheat land, " asking him by what authority he presumed 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 203 

to enter upon my ground, disturbing my sheep, and break 
down my fences. ... I scolded him very passionately, 
whipped off his dogs and forbade him coming any more in 
that circuit on pain of having all his dogs killed, and himself 
soundly banged." 

Richards was indeed rather an irascible person. The 
Retrospective Review for 1852 gives other extracts which make 
him a little more than a touchy landlord. He quarrelled 
bitterly with his wife, and his brief diaries the more 
personal entries in Italian, not English hint at a good 
reason. On June 29, 1701, " I kissed Mary Lillington for 
the first time." His wife was frequently " mad." On a day 
in December, 1700, " she was mad all the afternoon, and 
roared all the while all night when I shut her up in the 
dining-room." He may or may not have been a good 
" housekeeper " ; he was not above operating on his wife 
if need be " I cut ye flesh from her gum with my pen- 
knife." 

For a domestic contrast read this simple inscription on a 
woven ring : " Betty Porter of Henstridge this and the 
giver is yours for ever and so pray God bless us both to- 
gether. I am your humble servant, James Huson, 1721." 

Dorset certainly enjoyed its sports. Blandford Races, 
on the downs, were a great county event : they go back 
to Elizabeth's reign. Thomas Fownes, of Winterbourne 
Steepleton, set up a pack of foxhounds as early as 1730, and 
the great Peter Beckford was his successor. There was even 
falconry in Cranborne Chase, where the deer-stealers were 
only a little more obnoxious to its owner than his neighbours. 
Dodington had a rather absurd quarrel over the deer. Like 
other owners of land in or adjoining the outer walks of 
the Chase, he was in a quandary whether to kill trespassing 
deer or to fence them out. Finally he appointed a game- 
keeper on his estate a novelty. Such a thing had never 
been done. It so happened that the head ranger, Mr. 
Chafin last of his office met this keeper in Bussey Stool 
Walk, and warned him off. He met him again a few days 



204 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

later, and this time took the law into his own hands : he 
" shot three dogs at one shot." " This of course caused a 
serious rupture between Mr. Dodington and the Ranger " ; 
and Dodington issued a challenge, which Chafin accepted. 
Chafin " was at the expense of buying a sword, which was 
never made use of, but is still [1818] in being, and of blood 
guiltless " for Jacob Bancks of Milton Hutchins' bene- 
factor intervened, and " found Mr. Dodington peaceably 
inclined." " He acknowledged his error, and instead of 
fighting, invited both gentlemen to dine with him ; and 
they spent a very jovial day together." 

It makes a curiously diverse yet familiar picture : a 
picture, really, in which, on the whole, the figures differ 
from those in earlier pageants only because they have 
changed their clothes. Things go on much as usual. The 
well-to-do enjoy themselves in much the same way ; the 
middle-classes remain well in the middle : the underlying 
English brutality, which Fielding " contemplated with 
concern," and from which he suffered, seems to be neither 
mitigated nor even concealed. You have only to glance 
at Swift's more obscene poems to realize how utterly 
nasty elegant society could be and was. I suggest an 
excursion into low life as an antidote to the contes des fees of 
an artificial age. The most famous trial of the eighteenth 
century had Dorset for one of its scenes. The wits and fine 
ladies of London were all excitement over a parcel of gipsies 
wandering through Dorset villages. 

The case is that of Elizabeth Canning. There is only one 
really certain fact in ib, and that is that she disappeared on 
New Year's Day, 1752. She was a servant girl in Alderman- 
bury in the City of London, and she set out that morning 
to visit an uncle at Moorfields. She returned late at night 
on January 29th, dishevelled and completely worn out ; 
very near death, in fact. 

I am not much concerned with the London end of the 
tale ; but I believe I have solved in Dorset a mystery which 
has baffled, among others, Andrew Lang. Canning said she 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 205 

had been kidnapped and imprisoned in a house near Enfield, 
kept by one Mother Wells, and inhabited also by certain 
gipsies, especially an old woman called Mary Squires, who 
was preternaturally ugly ; tall and dark, with a stoop, of a 
complexion remarkably swarthy, she had also an underlip 
" of a prodigious size " " as big almost as a little child's 
arm." 

The gipsy and Susannah Wells were arrested on Canning's 
information, and tried for assault and putting in bodily 
fear. Mary Squires' defence, produced immediately she was 
accused, and maintained consistently for fifteen months, 
was that at the time of the alleged assault she, with her son 
George and her daughter Lucy, were tramping in Dorset 
and Hampshire and Wiltshire ; two witnesses from Abbots- 
bury, in Dorset, one from Coombe Bissett, in Wiltshire, 
supported this alibi at her trial. 

Before their trial, however, Canning swore a fuller 
information to no less a person than Henry Fielding, 
who published a famous pamphlet about her. The splendid 
quack, John Hill, answered it. Essays and flyleaves began 
to fly to and fro. Subscription lists for Canning were opened 
at the coffee houses. She and Wells and the formidable 
gipsy were the talk of the town. 

In due course Wells and Squires were tried, found guilty, 
and sentenced : the former to branding, which was carried 
out at once, the latter to death. Happily for Squires, a 
public -spirited Lord Mayor, Sir Crisp Gascoyne (who was 
mobbed for his pains), was uneasy about the verdict, 
scoured Dorset for further evidence, petitioned the King, 
and finally got Canning herself tried for perjury : of which 
she in turn was found guilty, and for which she was sentenced 
to seven years' transportation oirep Kal eyeVero. Mary 
Squires was first respited, and then received a free pardon. 
They could not unbrand Susannah Wells ; and anyhow she 
was an undesirable person. 

After the conviction of Squires the three country witnesses 
were indicted for perjury : but when they came up for 



206 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

trial, opinion had flowed against Canning, and, no evidence 
being offered against them, they were acquitted. It is 
curious that when they gave evidence at Squires' trial, a 
member of a well-known Dorset family was one of the judges 
Mr. Justice Gundry. He took their part in a vigorous 
cross-examination, and did not believe they were perjured. 
But it did not occur to him to ask, from his own local 
knowledge, certain questions about the gipsy's alleged 
movements which have not been asked to this day. 

At Canning's trial thirty-seven witnesses swore to seeing 
the gipsies in the West during the disputed period. Of 
thess thirty-seven, eleven came from Abbotsbury, and only 
three of the eleven had not seen the Squires before : the 
three comprised a temporary exciseman (afterwards dis- 
charged for neglect of duty), a schoolmaster, and a carpenter 
whose attitude towards life appears later. " Abbotsbury 
evidence " became a temporary proverb. Four other 
witnesses (pre-Abbotsbury) were from places farther north 
and had not seen the Squires before : one was a little 
doubtful in her evidence. Four witnesses out of five from 
places near Abbotsbury knew the gipsies well ; the fifth 
was apparently quite young. The witnesses from places 
outside the Abbotsbury district, with three exceptions, 
had positively not seen previously the singular figure of 
Mary Squires. These details are important. 

Twenty-seven witnesses, on the other hand, swore to the 
presence of Mary Squires at or near Mother Wells' house 
at Enfield during the same period. The majority, however, 
prevailed with the jury against Canning, as I have said, and 
the alibi was believed. 

That Dorset alibi has never yet been scrutinized closely 
with reference to local conditions. The general opinion of 
all who have written on the strange case tends definitely 
to one side or the other to the belief that one of the two 
parties told practically the whole truth, and the other lied 
like troopers. I believe they both lied and both told the 
truth. 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 207 

Follow now their singular trail in Dorset. Mary Squires, 
her son George, and her daughter Lucy emerge into legal 
history first at South Perrott near Crewkerne on the 
Somerset border. But how they got to South Perrott they 
did not know themselves. George said that before going 
West they had been into " the wild " of Kent or Sussex 
he was not sure which county to leave another daughter, 
Mary, to help a sick relative, Mrs. Squires' sister. He could 
remember little of the journey to Dorset. He thought he 
went to Shaftesbury, but he did not even know whether he 
stayed a night at Shaftesbury. He was ignorant of the name 
of any place between Yeovil and South Perrott, though he 
admitted there were several villages. In fact, the arrival 
of the party at South Perrott resembled nothing so much as 
that of the Apostle Philip at Azotus on a celebrated occasion : 
they simply were " found " there. 

They were identified by two witnesses, previously un- 
acquainted with them, as having been at the Red Lion, 
South Perrott, on the night of Friday, December 29th, 1751. 
The next morning, " between eight and nine o'clock," they 
were at the Three Horseshoes at Wynyard's Gap, a 
mile and a half away on the Dorchester road a steep 
ascent rising from two hundred and twenty-one feet to 
eight hundred and twenty-six feet a few hundred yards past 
the Gap. At that inn, according to Alice Farnham, the 
hostess's daughter, they had a quart of beer and some bread 
and cheese and " stayed about an hour." They said they 
would come back at " Old Christmas " (January 6th). 

The old woman, Alice thought, " was very unhealthy, 
seemingly, coming up against the hill." Mary Squires was 
seventy years old. She was clad in a drab-coloured cloak 
and serge gown. Lucy was a personable figure, " a very 
clean sort of a body, and of a black complexion, not like 
a traveller or gipsy by her dress," neat in appearance, 
wearing a white gown and a red cloak. George, five feet 
ten in height, wore a greatcoat with glass-black buttons, 
over a blue coat and red waistcoat, and a dark brown bob- 



208 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

wig, and carried " a little fardle " a bundle containing, 
according to Alice, hardware, but according to George, 
" aprons, worked gowns, nankeens, white waistcoats, and 
hollands and such things." 

They were next seen at Litton Cheney, in the Bride 
Valley. The Dorchester road, followed throughout, would 
not take them thither, save deviously : and they certainly 
were on the Dorchester road if they were in Dorset at 
all till between nine and ten that morning, and set forth 
from Wynyard's Gap along that same road, up the hill. 
Two other roads run nearly parallel to it, to the south-east ; 
the nearer, the "Roman" road over Eggardon Hill; the 
farther, the present Bridport-Dorchester road. All three 
converge on Dorchester. And if the gipsies were going 
straight to Litton Cheney, they must abandon the first 
road not far from Wynyard's Gap, follow the second for a 
little distance, and cross the third. 

The road-books of the period are not helpful as to cross- 
country routes. But there is an excellent map of 1765 
which indicates how they could have reached their destina- 
tion most quickly, if they were acquainted with the country 
and, as an old man in the neighbourhood said to me not 
long ago, " the gippos do know the lie of the land." 

From the standpoint of the cartographer this map and 
its slightly later Wiltshire companion are very interesting. 
They show the curious persistence of the most venerable 
trackways. Between the first two roads to Dorchester there 
were in 1763 very few links : the byroads running from 
either towards the other are nearly all blind alleys. They 
are precisely the same blind alleys to-day. The reason lies 
in the nature of the country, which contains very high 
downs alternating sharply with damp wooded valleys. 
And the main through roads, at this and a later stage in 
the gipsies' journey, often ran, not on the turnpike routes 
just then in process of construction, but upon the still- 
existing but now virtually deserted Celtic trackways. 

This first stage in the Egyptian Hegira is important : 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 209 

to anyone who knows the country, it is the first stage of 
doubt of their veracity. By their own account, they walked 
as if in a hurry : the figure of one William Clarke, now 
looming near, may be a clue to their haste. They must 
have chosen the quickest route, because of their time-table. 
They must, however, have followed roads, not mere foot- 
paths ; because not only was George Squires taken later 
over their route five times in a coach his own counsel's 
statement but the season was exceptionally bad. Compare 
1751 with that odious year 1920, for rainy days : 1920's 
rainy days are in brackets : May, 1751, 15 (12) ; June, 
10 (11); July, 20 (16); August, 17 (8); September, 12 
(13) ; October, 9 (9) ; November, 11 (16) ; December, 
10 (25) ; in January, 1752, it snowed, and, as will be seen, 
the floods were out. 

Give the travellers the benefit of the doubt, and assume 
that they went the shortest way by road ; not the easiest 
way, but the shortest. If they did know the He of the land, 
they went along the main road to Toller Down Gate (called 
Fair Down in 1763 : Fair Field to-day is close by) three 
miles (from Wynyard's Gap) at about the 800-feet level. 
At the cross-roads by the milestone, they turned to the 
right, went a quarter of a mile uphill (possibly a mile, 
to a perhaps easier road) along the Beaminster road, and 
took either a footpath or a byroad through Toller Whelme 
to Warren Hill and Mount Pleasant. On their way they 
would have to cross two streams, descend to 500 feet through 
wooded country, and climb again to 674 feet. 

Mount Pleasant, by this route, is eight and a quarter 
miles from South Perrott, six and three-quarters from 
Wynyard's Gap. From there onwards to the summit of 
Eggardon they would need all their knowledge of the "lie," 
for it is even now a bewildering region, in which the streams 
and sudden small valleys make short cuts dangerous. 
They would follow the present road towards Toller Porcorum 
for about 550 yards, downhill, and then bear south-south- 
east, along a parish boundary (and that was an important 



210 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

thing to know in 1752), still downhill, to cross another 
stream at 411 feet, just where the railway runs to-day : 
thence up to the 700 contour, and higher, to 828 feet on 
Eggardon Hill. Here they would follow the very old track 
eastwards for about a mile, past tumuli and cromlechs, 
and then turn more nearly due south and go downhill, 
over the ghostly earthen circle close to the third diagonal 
track, the Dorchester-Bridport road down, down, at last, 
to Litton Cheney, with its two streams and the green 
water-meadows beyond. And that adds another six miles 
to their journey : fourteen and a quarter from South 
Perrott, twelve and three-quarters from Wynyard's Gap. 

The interesting thing about this route is that it tallies 
with George Squires' statement that the only " town " 
between South Perrott and Litton was Wynyard's Gap. 
By any other route, longer or shorter, they must have come 
upon hamlets or villages more impressive than the Gap. 
The route, moreover, is not at all far from a crow-flight 
between the two places. George underestimated the total 
distance by two miles or so in his evidence. 

They left the Gap between 9 and 10 ; say, 9.30. They 
reached the inn at Litton, twelve and three-quarter miles 
away over bad country, in bad weather, at 2 o'clock, on the 
testimony of the innkeeper ; four and a half hours a very 
old woman, " unhealthy, seomingly," a young girl nicely 
dressed, and a man in an overcoat with a bundle of wares. 
As the visitor to the Zoological Gardens said about the 
giraffe, " I don't believe it." However, go with them all the 
way. 

A plasterer of Litton Cheney, John Fry, who had known 
" the old gipsy " for thirty years, and had often seen her 
there, testifies that on that Saturday evening, December 30th, 
1752, the party were sitting in the inn, in a new room. They 
stayed there that night. The next day, Sunday, December 
31st, George went to the house of Francis Gladrnan, a 
gardener, and got shaved, and in the forenoon went on to 
Abbotsbury to see one William Clarke. 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 211 

Now William Clarke, one of the three witnesses called 
at the first trial, and discharged of perjury afterwards, 
is an outstanding figure in this strange affair. He was a 
shoemaker or cordwainer of Abbotsbury. By his own 
account, he had met the gipsies before : four years before. 
In 1751-2 he " was dear to " Lucy Squires, as his association 
with her and her family from this point would suggest. 
When and how he first became dear to her is an interesting 
mystery. He had not met any of the gipsies again by his 
own account between that encounter " four years before " 
and the present occasion. His affection lasted well. Yet 
his feelings for Lucy, as he himself described them, were 
hardly tumultuous : " We were upon civil terms ; I never 
saw anything by her but civil terms ; she is as honest a 
girl as any in the world for what I know." Is a romance of 
that nebulous character sufficient ground for this strange 
cross-country sprint sufficient to set the family running, 
like mating badgers, over hills and dales which lovesick 
Lucy was too stupid to be trusted to identify, and which 
her brother, who found Clarke unerringly, had to revisit 
five times for certainty ? 

And George did not at once fetch William to his Lucy, 
but lodged that night at Abbotsbury ; thereby missing 
some good cheer at Litton, for the villagers were wont to 
ring in the New Year on the church's peal of six bells at 
daybreak, and thereafter to resort to the public-house, 
" with our jug of cider, that was given us, to have something 
put in it." The horticultural barber, Gladman it is a good 
name in his exhilaration tried to get the old woman to 
tell his fortune, or to talk Spanish or Portuguese or Dutch 
or French to him ; but she would not. " Then I said, 
' You are one of the family of the scamps ' ; she said, 
* No, I am no scamp.' ' 

James Angel of Litton also noticed her : he had repaired 
to the inn " after evening prayer " on the Sunday. But the 
cheerful party, after two hours of cider doubtless with 
" something put into it " (gin, " says I, knowing the 



212 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

language ") adjourned to go fox-hunting with " the 
minister's kinsman." (This may have been Mr. William 
Chafin Grove, of Friar Waddon, a few miles away, one of the 
earliest recorded keepers of a pack.) They were hunting 
all Monday till about three o'clock just as the Cattistock 
hunt there every January now ; and then Angel came back 
to the inn : for why ? " The minister's kinsman gave the 
people some money." 

On the Monday George Squires walked back to Litton 
with William Clarke, and William met his Lucy " about three 
or four o'clock it might be three o'clock ... I know it 
was some time before it was dark." He should know, as a 
lover. But the other witnesses gave conflicting evidence. 
It is at least agreed that the three gipsies and Clarke ate 
two fowls (boiled) at the Litton inn that afternoon. George 
had bought not stolen the fowls from Dance Turner of 
Litton, for sixpence apiece, making " a cludation " for the 
feathers, which Mrs. Turner was to have. This struck the 
London lawyers as curiously luxurious ; but " we don't 
eat roast meat in the country but very little," said the inn- 
keeper, and George stated that he often ate fowls, because 
they could be purchased in that district " cheaper than beef 
or mutton." 

After the meal they set out for Abbotsbury. According 
to Clarke (who was pressed on the point) the old woman 
could not do more than two miles an hour. The actual 
distance from Litton to Abbotsbury, for a crow, is three 
and a half miles ; but by either of the two old farm-tracks 
across country to-day it is at least four and a half ; the first 
mile through flooded water-meadows, and the last over 
Abbotsbury Hill (691 feet) a hill at which even Ford cars 
boggle to-day. 

At Abbotsbury the vagrants vagabonds in the eyes of 
the law, and in point of fact provided with very little money, 
as will be seen became at once part of the minor society of 
the place. On that very first evening there was dancing 
at the inn, country dances, up to midnight. Melchisedech 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 213 

Arnold, the blacksmith, " played on the music." He was 
a fiddler and a cider-seller as well as a smith, and he played 
for them again the next Saturday (January 6th) : three times 
at least they danced that week for they had reached 
Lucy's promised land, and need no longer haste away. 
Lucy danced with her William, and George with the host's 
sister, Mary Gibbons. 

And there came to the dancing many folk. Andrew 
Wake was there, a temporary exciseman lodging in the house, 
who slept in the same room as George Squires, and borrowed 
his coat to go his round in, and was afterwards discharged 
His Majesty's service for neglect of duty : Hugh Bond the 
schoolmaster, who according to George had given the boys 
a holiday and " got fuddled that night," but by his own 
account was not at the Old Ship at all till January 8th : 
John Ford (the innkeeper's uncle), a carpenter and baker, 
who kissed Lucy and drank with George, and was said to be 
intoxicated when giving evidence a year later ;* a merry 
fellow. These are the only three of the Abbotsbury 
witnesses who did not claim previous acquaintance with 
the gipsies. 

There were present also many other villagers. There 
was Daniel Wallace, a mercer, who " generally drank 
cider " as who would not in that hamlet of admirable 
cider ? George bought sugar of him, and Mrs. Squires 
asked him to dinner on Sunday ; but he refused, for the 
ungallant but intelligible reason that he " had something 
particular to dine on " a roast shoulder of mutton. Also 
John Hawkins, a weaver, John Bailey, a carpenter and 
barber, and George Clements, who dined with the gipsies 
on January 7th, and drank with them on two other days, 
and had, he said, seen Mary Squires fifteen or sixteen years 
before. 

* His evidence has a cheerful tone of inebriety. One of the pamphleteers 
states that at Canning's trial " he was so intolerably drunk that he was 
bid to go about his business." Canning's prosecutor, to whom Ford was a 
friendly witness, did not keep him long : " You are drunk now, and ought 
to be ashamed of yourself." 






214 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Thus in mirth and solace they abode at the Old Ship 
till January 9th, a Tuesday. Where did the money come 
from ? The inn was " the most public house in the town," 
according to the vicar, who afterwards upheld the good 
faith of his corybantic parishioners : it was the excise- 
office of the place, and the dancers evidently were not of the 
lowest labouring class. George Squires said he had set out 
originally from " Kent " with about twenty pounds' worth 
of goods. The whole journey from London to Dorset and 
back, by his evidence, lasted at least ten weeks. By the 
time he reached Abbotsbury, he stated, he had disposed of 
all his wares, except a piece of " check," and two waist- 
coats : he still kept, however, as will be seen, a small piece 
of nankeen (not " check," he himself explained), worth two 
shillings a yard. Clarke said he sold two aprons at the Old 
Ship. Gibbons the innkeeper, at the first trial that of 
Squires and Wells asserted that the gipsies " came with 
handkerchiefs, lawns, muslins, and checks " not a mere 
penultimate nankeen or apron. George paid all expenses, 
and at Abbotsbury, or a little later, remitted payment 
for a debt to a London friend. He subsequently borrowed 
six shillings from William Clarke, and evidently was hard up 
for ready money. Their expenses were probably not high : 
the tavern bill at Litton was three shillings and sixpence, 
apart from the cost of the fowls. But even if they kept down 
to that level, a seventy days' pilgrimage, with a week's 
cheerful holiday thrown in, demands money. I shall come 
to a possible explanation later. 

If their sojourn at Abbotsbury was fantastic, their 
departure is equally hard to understand. Somewhere they 
received a letter from the invisible Mary Squires file 
Polly, she was called by George Clements. Polly was ill, 
and they must hasten to her. George Squires said this was 
their reason for leaving Abbotsbury : but he could not decide 
when he had received this letter, and his sister had been 
given no address to which to write, nor did he remember to 
what address the missive was directed. Moreover, Polly 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 215 

could not write. I am informed by the learned historian of 
the post office that there was no official mail from London 
to Abbotsbury in 1751-2 : letters had to be sent on by 
private effort from Dorchester, which was on the Exeter 
mail route. The same authority tells me that the postboys 
travelled about five miles an hour. It seems safe to assume 
that a letter from London to Dorchester would take at 
least two days in transit. It would then have to await local 
facilities. The gipsies may just have been able to write to 
" Kent " (but Polly was actually in London, as George said 
at this point in his evidence : how did he know ?) and get 
an answer, during their stay at Abbotsbury ; but it seems 
unlikely. Here, too, an explanation may be possible on the 
general facts of the case. 

At any rate, they, who were now in haste, who ten days 
before, with less reason for speed, had accomplished at least 
thirteen difficult miles in about five hours, set out from 
Abbotsbury on January 9ih (William Clarke accompanying 
Lucy as faithfully as the dog of Tobias, Tobit's son), and 
struggled as far as Portisham. It is from one and a half to 
two miles from Abbotsbury, according to the route taken : 
two by the present-day drier road. 

In that village a tailor, William Haines, who had seen 
Mrs. Squires before, and known her " thirty years and 
upwards," saw them at the Chequers inn. Haines sub- 
sequently said that George Squires was not with the party 
at first, but that on his way to Abbotsbury, where he rented 
a shop, he met George " in the fields " : there is still a 
field-path, a short cut through marshy ground, between the 
two places. Haines' son also saw them. 

They remained there the rest of the day and night. " It 
was terrible bad weather the next day " (January 10th), 
but they made a slightly better journey, nevertheless, and 
attained Ridgeway, four and a half miles east, on the Dor- 
chester-Weymouth road. They arrived between nine and 
eleven in the morning, according to Francis Bewley, the 
landlord of the Sloop Aground public-house, where they 



216 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

had at first " some roll and cheese," and about one o'clock 
" some beef -steaks for dinner." 

It is here that the financial crisis occurred. George not 
only borrowed from Clarke, as has been said, but he was too 
short of cash to pay his tavern bill. Early in the morning 
of January 1 1th he repaired to the bedroom of Bewley with 
a nankeen " waistcoat " (a piece suitable for a waistcoat), 
and woke Bewley and offered it as payment in kind. Bewley 
demurred : he had never had a waistcoat like that. To 
them, Mary Squires : by whose suave arts the innkeeper 
was persuaded to accept the cloth. He marked it there and 
then. It was produced in court at Canning's trial, and 
identified beyond doubt. The Squires, or some of them, 
were certainly at the Sloop Aground somewhere about 
that time. 

And here Clarke must leave his Lucy and romance, and 
return to his last at Abbotsbury. Fortunately for him, a 
man with two horses turned up, one Thomas Mockeridge, 
a turnip-seller of Abbotsbury, on his homeward way. He, 
like Clarke, shared the Squires' beef -steaks : he had seen 
Mary Squires three years before, as also had the landlord. 
They left early the next day, and went off along the Dor- 
chester road to Fordington, which joins the county town 
at its south-eastern corner. If the Sloop Aground was 
at Ridgeway Hill Gate none of the inns mentioned now 
exist under the names quoted the distance is three miles : 
it is four if the tavern was at Ridgeway hamlet. John 
Taylor, of the Coach and Horses, close by the mill at 
Fordington, who had known the gipsies " some years," 
saw them between 8 and 11 a.m. on Thursday, January llth. 
He made the curious statement that " they were not in my 
house, they were in my stable on the 10^." The discrepancy 
in the date may be a reporter's error. But it must be 
remembered, for later suggestion, that Taylor knew the 
Squires. 

There is another discrepancy in the evidence here. Taylor 
said the road was almost impassable through rain. " The 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 217 

waters wore so high, they (the gipsies) went through a 
neighbour's house and my stable the back way." To get 
them through " the water " a fortuitous miller's boy 
appeared with a horse. He carried Lucy behind him over 
the floods for " a pint of beer " : but the human, humane 
young man " could not stay " to give the old woman a lift 
too. According to Taylor, who agreed as to Lucy's cavalier, 
" the old woman took up her coats and went along through 
it." He saw her cross two of the three bridges at this point. 
" Nobody carried her, she went on foot." According to 
George, " I took my mother, and carried her on my back 
through the water." When Taylor last saw them, they were 
on the Blandford road, the great highway through the 
middle of Dorset. 

That small conflict of evidence raises two other points. 
George Squires does not say quite clearly that he got Polly's 
letter at Abbotsbury : he may have got it at Dorchester. 
In that case the gipsies either went out of their way to the 
centre of the town before or after crossing the streams, or 
never went to Fordington at all. And why did they go to 
Fordington ? It so happens that their visit coincided with 
a recent piece of road development. In 1746 the main road 
from Dorchester eastwards did run through Fordington, in 
a great curve. In 1747-8 the present road over Grey's 
Bridge, a beautiful straight causeway, was built over two 
new bridges, rendering the Fordington curve south un- 
necessary. It might be a strong point in support of the 
a priori truth of the gipsies' evidence that, not having 
visited Dorset for three or four years before 1751, they went 
by the old way. On the other hand, why did they not find 
and use the new road ? 

But they were really in a hurry now. They did not stop 
at Dorchester, but, says George, "went forward almost all 
night." It is not disclosed where they lay that night 
(Thursday, January llth), but "the next day we got to a 
place called Tawney Down, and we went into a little ale- 
house on the road, and had some bread and cheese and a 



18 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

pint of boor. We lay at Chettle that night, which was the 
Friday." " We went through Blandford." . 

I cannot identify Tawney Down, unless it is a strange 
version of Tarrant Hinton. Blandford is sixteen miles, by 
the present fairly straight road, from Dorchester : Chettle 
to the left of the main road at least another six and a half ; 
making twenty-five and a half in all from Ridgeway Hill 
Gate. No wonder " my mother was very weary," after 
travelling a day and a half without a proper night's rest. 

There was no alehouse at Chettle. They lay in a barn 
shown them by Thomas Hunt, a thresher of that place ; he 
saw them at about four in the afternoon, and said they set 
off again the next day, which was very wet, about ten or 
eleven o'clock, "or it may be something more." He had 
never met them before, but in evidence he swore to knowing 
George " as I know my right hand from my left." He was 
less certain of Lucy " because she was covered over " ; he 
was " very sure " of Mary Squires. 

From Chettle next day they went to Martin ; there was 
no alehouse here either, " so a gentleman let us lie in his 
barn." There is some obscurity here. Their next place of 
call was Coombe Bissett, near Salisbury. But, as George 
admitted, Martin is " not in the direct way from Chettlo to 
London : it is the bottom way ; we came there because it 
was night." That should only mean that they followed 
either the present road or the very old track which con- 
verges with the Ackling Dyke near Bottlebush Down up 
to somewhere near Pentridge village, under the wild and 
desolate Celtic camp on Pentridge Hill, and across the 
Bokerly Dyke by Martin Down to Martin itself : nine and 
a half miles by the shortest line of older tracks. 

Perhaps nine and a half miles was a long enough walk. 
There was no lover awaiting Lucy as at the setting-forth 
from South Perrott. They reached Martin at about 4 p.m. 
on Saturday, January 13th. Three witnesses who had 
never seen them before swore positively to their appearance. 
One was a carter who found them shelter, by leave of his 






THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 219 

master, Farmer Thane, in an outhouse or barn : he testified 
that they " got up " about 8 a.m. the next day (Sunday). 
Another was a servant of Thane, who spoke to their sleeping 
in the same outhouse, and also to the fact that he " saw the 
old woman in master's house by the fire, and her daughter 
was joining china for them " ; and the third was a black- 
smith who lived at Farmer Thane's. Farmer Thane was to 
have given evidence, but was taken ill on the way to London. 
From the presence of the visitors in his house, it would seem 
almost as if he had previous acquaintance with them. The 
question of foreknowledge is important. I should like 
Farmer Thane to have been cross-examined. 

Their journey through Wiltshire from here onwards is 
full of small mysteries. I will not pursue it in detail. From 
Martin, " on the Sunday night," though they got up so early, 
they marched only five miles, to Coombe Bissett. , Witnesses 
who had not seen them before identified them. They left 
Coombe on the Monday (January 15th) apparently about 
seven in the morning. They next appeared at Basingstoke, 
forty miles away, on Thursday, January 18th. They put up 
at the Spread Eagle, kept by Mary Morris. Their movements 
between these points are totally obscure. 

Here a second letter episode comes in. Lucy had not 
forgotten her William ; and thus she indicated her feelings, 
by the hand of Mary Morris, whose little boy took it to the 
post office, urged to the appropriate speed by a present of a 
halfpenny from George : 

" SIR : This with my kind love and service to you, and all 
your family, hoping you are all in good health, as I be at 
present. This is to acquaint you that I am very uneasy for 
your troublesome journey, hoping you received no illness 
after your journey ; so no more at present from your most 
obedient and humble servant, 

LUCY SQUIRES. 

" I desire to hear from you as soon as possible. Direct 
for Lucy Squires at Brentford, near London. George and 
mother give their compliments to you, and all your family." 



220 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

A reasonably warm message, as eighteenth-century love- 
letters go. But why Brentford, when the sick sister was in 
London ? The tale told by George was that they arrived in 
Brentford on a Saturday. On the Sunday he went to White 
Hart Yard at Tottenham " to look after Sister Mary," 
and on the Monday he took Sister Mary to Brentford. On 
the Tuesday they all Lucy, George and Mary m:re et fille 
went back to Tottenham. All this prodigious haste along 
neolithic byways for a girl whose good- or ill-health was 
never even questioned in evidence, although she could run 
to and fro between Brentford and Tottenham a fortnight 
after her mother's alarmed departure from Abbotsbury. 

I will leave them at Baoingstoke. They were on the clear 
high road to London, over Bagshot Heath (but doubtless in 
no fear of highwaymen) to Brentford, and so to Mother Wells' 
den, where it was admitted they lay for some days before 
their arrest. 

That is the story. Neither at the time nor since has any- 
one hitherto thought it worth while to go closely over the 
ground of this alleged journey. And there was another 
strange omission of enquiry. Counsel for her prosecution 
suggested that Canning really was at the Enfield house, and 
that she went there to be delivered of a child. The wit- 
nesses called in reference to her medical condition were 
curiously chosen and very casually examined. A City 
apothecary testified that she was completely exhausted 
when she returned home. So did a City doctor. No one 
doubted that fact. These witnesses said nothing of possible 
childbirth. Dr. Daniel Cox, of the Middlesex Hospital, 
whom one of the pamphleteers treated as a standing joke, 
did not give evidence, but published a pamphlet himself, 
describing how he had chanced to be near when she returned 
to Aldermanbury, and had called in two midwives and an 
old friend of the family to examine her. (The midwives gave 
evidence in a language oddly like Mrs. Gamp's.) Their 
examination of her was cursory, to say the least. It was 
adequate, if believed, to show that she had not borne a child 



THE AGE OF ELEGANCE 221 

during that month of absence : it was entirely inadequate 
to show (indeed, it ignored the possibility) that she had not 
undergone what would now be an illegal operation, or 
procured abortion by medicinal treatment. 

But can Mary Squires, that deformed witch, have been 
at Enfield, in view of the numerous witnesses from the West ? 
Consider two other features in the case both brought out 
by the anti-Canning counsel. When William Clarke, the 
steadfast lover, was brought to London for the first trial, 
Canning's attorney, " with several persons well armed," 
accompanied him in fact, carried him to London forcibly. 
They beset him perpetually on the journey to town, trying 
to make him admit that Mary Squires " was not the same 
woman he knew at Abbotsbury ; at the same time assuring 
him that his compliance should not hurt him, and that he 
might do it very safely, seeing there were two sisters so 
much resembling each other that they could not be dis- 
tinguished." Mary admittedly had a sister who was not 
called in evidence, though she could have borne out the story 
about Polly's illness and strengthened the alibi if it were true. 
Was this sister something like a double of Mary ? 

The second point is that the gipsies avowedly travelled in 
smuggled goods, and Abbotsbury was a smuggling centre. 
It is in this connection that the question of previous acquaint- 
ance is important. The country witnesses, if they gave 
evidence at all, must hang together in more than one sense. 
They had no wish to dance on air. There was enough money 
behind the gipsies to take George Squires five times over his 
alleged route, in a coach. The smuggling trade was enor- 
mously powerful. Its chief problem distribution was 
solved by means of a network of regular secret routes and 
storage centres far inland. And there was enough feeling 
in this case to cause some of the Enfield witnesses to be 
intimidated. London society, at any rate, guessed what 
was behind the gipsies' defence : "all the people at Abbots- 
bury, including even the Vicar, are Thieves, Smugglers, and 
Plunderers of Shipwrecks." 



222 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The evidence as to the gipsies' journey all points to one 
thing the fabrication of an elaborate tale based on a few 
genuine facts, and so concocted as to keep in the background 
all the elements dangerous to the great Free Trade industry. 
George Squires learnt his itinerary by heart. He would not 
give away a single place of call outside that prescribed 
route : " Really, sir, I hope you will excuse me, be pleased 
to excuse me : I cannot tell indeed : please to excuse me." 
The smugglers' lines of communication must be kept secret, 
except for the few stages needed for the alibi, and on most 
of those stages friendly witnesses were ready to swear any- 
thing. 

At the same time, the evidence as to the presence of 
George, Lucy and an ugly old gipsy in Dorset and Wiltshire 
during that January is too strong to be dismissed altogether 
just as the Enfield evidence is. The details may be false : 
knowing the country, I simply cannot believe the alleged 
rate of progress. But I can believe that the places men- 
tioned were visited approximately as stated by George, 
Lucy, and the unproduced duplicate sister. As for Canning, 
she may have been detained as she stated Andrew Lang's 
warning against disbelieving the incredible is a good one ; 
or she may have gone to Enfield voluntarily for the purpose 
suggested. The two explanations together at least meet in 
some degree the preposterous facts which appear even 
more preposterous after a close geographical survey. 



XI 

He is the wisest and ablest of all politicians who, by promoting the glory 
of God, interests the Divine Providence in extending the power of 
any nation. We know in how wonderful a manner the gospel was 
propagated ; and wo may confidently expect, that when this is 
sincerely the aim of any government, the same assistance will not be 
wanting : for whatever men may do, the great Author of all things 
never alters His maxims, and to follow them is the most infallible 
method of securing, might we not say commanding, success." 

DR. BROCKLESBY, quoted by John Brownlow in 

The History and Design of the Foundling Hospital. 



It was always considered as a piece of impertinence in England, if a 
man of less than 2000 or 3000 a year had any opinion at all upon im- 
portant subjects ; and in addition, he was sure at that time to be 
assailed with all the Billingsgate of the French Revolution Jacobin, 
Leveller, Atheist, Deist, Socinian, Incendiary, Regicide, were the 
gentlest appellations used ; and the man who breathed a syllable 
against the senseless bigotry of the two Georges, or hinted at the 
abominable tyranny and persecution exercised upon Catholic Ireland, 
was shunned as unfit for the relations of social life." 

The REV. SYDNEY SMITH, 

Preface to Collected Essays. 







XI 
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 




CANNOT but continue the records of elegance immedi- 
ately, before I descend to the seamen, and to the clod 
upon whose rheumatic shoulders the superstructure 
of fine living rested. In due course it pleased Almighty 
God to call to the throne of Britain not the nugatory 
Frederick, but his son, the homely sovereign often called 
Farmer George. I cannot feel so certain as his subjects 
were of Almighty God's affectionate admiration for George 
III. But at least he made the fortunes of Wey mouth, whose 
inhabitants constantly invoked his Creator in his behalf, 
not only by means of the terrific effigy still dominating the 
motor buses on the Parade, but by other and less solemn 
methods. 

Nothing, in the long and engaging history of monarchy, 
has surpassed in delightful absurdity the welcome given to 
the good king at Weymouth in 1789. He had just recovered 
Q 225 



226 



THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 



from one of his more severe indispositions, and the sea air 
and bathing of Weymouth were recommended, and were 
indeed beneficial. Happily Fanny Burney was with the 
Court. She telh of the triumphal progress of the popular 
sovereign through Hampshire and Wiltshire : the huge 
crowds everywhere, the festooned arches, the green bowmen 
who accompanied the royal carriage, the incessant strains 
of " God Save the King." " The King's late dreadful 
illness," Madame d'Arblay exclaims, " has rendered this 
song quite melting to me." Dorchester surprised her by 
" the amazing quantity of indigenous residers " who 
crowded every window as they passed. The indigenous 
residers were noticeably less numerous on a later occasion : 
they were not wholly indigenous on this first visit. 

But the surprise was the sea bathing at Weymouth, whose 
passionate devotion to the national anthem knew no bounds. 
Comment on Miss Burney's account would be impertinent. 

" Not a child could we meet that had not a bandeau round 
its head, cap, or hat, of ' God Save the King.' All the barge- 
men wore it in cockades ; and even the bathing-women had it 
in large coarse girdles round their waists. It is printed in 
golden letters upon most of the bathing-machines. . . . 
Those bathers that belong to the royal dippers wear it in 
bandeaus on their bonnets, to go into the sea ; and have 
it again, in large letters, round their waists, to encounter 
the waves. Flannel dresses, tucked up, and no shoes 
nor stockings, with bandeaus and girdles, have a most 
singular appearance ; and when I first surveyed these loyal 
nymphs it was with some difficulty I kept my features in 
order. 

" Nor is this all. Think but of the surprise of His Majesty 
when, the first time of his bathing, he had no sooner popped 
his royal head under the water than a band of music, con- 
cealed in a neighbouring machine,* struck up ' God Save 
great George our King.' ' 

* " A machine follows the royal one into the sea, filled with fiddlers " 
Fanny Burney's Diary : the rest of the quotation is from a famous letter 
to her father. 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 227 

" The three princesses," Hutchins tells us, " also 
bathed frequently and were much delighted with these 
ablutions." 

In the course of this first visit to Dorset the royal party 
were entertained at Lulworth Castle by the then head of 
the Weld family : his elder brother, deceased, had been the 
first husband of the lady who was at that time Mrs. Fitz- 
herbert, and afterwards wife of George IV. 

Sherborne, Milton, and Cerne were also visited, and then, 
after about eleven weeks' stay, during which Mr. Pitt (" his 
appearance is his least recommendation ; it is neither 
noble nor expressive ") waited on the King, the royal 
party went on through Bridport and Axminsterto Exeter. 
"About the beginning of August," Hutchins says, "the 
Duke of Gloucester made a short visit, which afforded 
no inconsiderable addition to the happiness of the 
inhabitants." 

Gloucester Terrace and the other beautiful Georgian 
houses on the parade sufficiently testify to one of the real 
virtues of that complacent age. Weymouth and its spacious 
bay, still, in spite of piers and pierrots, a great stretch of 
loveliness at all times and in all seasons, did benefit the good 
King, who returned thither many times, to the sustained 
joy of its citizens. 

It is worth while to record, to set against the gloom which 
the contemporary history of the labouring classes inspires, 
the cheerful orgies at Dorchester at the time of one of these 
later visits in 1798. Sports were organized at Maiden 
Castle ; and the ancient ramparts saw contests for the follow- 
ing, among other, rewards : 

" To be played for at cricket, a round of beef ; each man 
of the winning set to have a ribband. . . . 

" A pound of tobacco to be grinned for. 

" A handsome hat for the boy most expert in catching 
a roll dipped in treacle, and suspended by a string. . . . 

" A pig ; prize to whoever catches him by the tail." 



228 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Another delight in the sovereign's honour was a monstrous 
hollow pie filled with canaries : " When the pie was opened 
the birds began to sing " probably the National Anthem. 

Weymouth certainly benefited by the royal favour, 
apart from its immediate establishment as a watering- 
place. It became customary, for instance, for the chief 
actors of the day to appear there. Kean obtained his first 
chance of popularity by a performance which caught the 
chance eye of a " London Manager " more effectively than 
the efforts of Mr. Crummies and his company at Portsmouth. 
Grimaldi senior trod the Weymouth stage and wrote some 
verses in its honour. Elliston was another passing visitor. 
He had the joyous experience of dropping casually into the 
theatre one day, and finding his sovereign fast asleep in the 
royal box. George had been caught in a shower of rain and 
had taken shelter there. Elliston did not like to wake him 
crudely. He retired, and obtaining some musical instrument, 
played " God Save the King." The King woke. 

One of the more memorable desires expressed by King 
George was to the effect that he wished every child in his 
dominions to be taught to read the Bible. It was as a result 
of a Dorset resident's efforts that he came to this decision. 
The age extended its care to morals unceasingly, and the 
West was a strong centre of morality. Hannah More was 
not far away, engaged in her devastating controversy with 
the incumbent of Blagdon. The celebrated Madras System, 
over which Joseph Lancaster, Mrs. Trimmer, Sidney Smith, 
and Andrew Bell generated so much heat, and out of which 
arose the National Society for Promoting the Education of 
the Children of the Poor in the Principles of the Established 
Church (I love its almost unknown full title) and the British 
and Foreign School Society that celebrated system was 
adopted at Dorchester in 1812, after a meeting of the Grand 
Jury of the County of Dorset assembled at the Lent Assizes, 
and a subsequent meeting of the " Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, 
and Inhabitants " (in due order). The inventor of the 
System, the virtual founder of the National Society, Bell 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 229 

himself, the inspire! of the monarch's hope, was rector of 
Swanage from 1801 onwards. 

It need hardly be said that the Committee formed in 
1812 laboured to advance the then policy of the Society 
to educate the poor, but not to educate them too much, nor 
so as to render them discontented with their station ; and 
to teach them useful arts, but not to withdraw them from 
economic occupations. " No Girl," said the Dorset regula- 
tions, " to be permitted to learn to write or cypher, till she 
has completed her ninth year, nor then, unless she can read 
the Bible fluently, repeat the Catechism, Prayers, etc., 
knit stockings, and do all sorts of common plain work. . . . 
It has been found that in many of the smaller parishes, 
it is not practicable to introduce Day Schools, as the children 
from a very early age are called out to employment in 
husbandry, and other industrious pursuits." I wonder what 
Mr. H. A. L. Fisher considers " practicable " in popular 
education to-day. 

And I wonder also, for I fear after all it is now as impossible 
to get into theirs as into the mediaeval mind, in spite of 
still existing survivals I wonder what the less advanced 
clergy really thought ; or for the matter of that what any 
decent Tory thought. Read Moritz or Arthur Young about 
the squalor of peasant life (still squalid) : read Fielding, 
keep reading Fielding, who though he might choose to label 
people All worthy and Square and Thwackum, was not 
deluded by his own sentimentality as regards the real state 
of the countryside. They at least thought. But though they 
knew better they did little. On the whole they accepted. 
How much more easily would lesser men accept a millennium 
to be won by the least humiliating form of boot-licking un- 
questioning acquiescence in the policy of the good and great ? 

I asked how the clergy accepted it : in mid-century 
by marrying, almost at command, the lord of the manor's 
housekeeper ; unless they happened to be younger sons, 
when the rich living was nursed and the rich bride provided 
if she were available. There was a place between the grades 



230 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

(Mr. Collins is a later product of the system) and there was 
under Wesley and Simeon a place outside them. The real 
indictment of the clergy, as of the better type of Tory 
squire, is on the charge of blindness, not of lack of 
sympathy. 

But that indictment comes from the post-Darwin era, 
in which historical perspective is a schoolboy's common- 
place. What decent gentry and parsons saw was that there 
was a lot of discomfort, a good deal of give-and-take, a 
certain habit of piggishness in the lower orders, a little 
discontent among those who usually turned out to be bad 
characters (bad like Tom Jones, by what standard ?), and 
a reasonable amount of care for them by those set, by God 
and the British constitution, over them. From the evolu- 
tionary point of view, this was not a bad stage in progressive 
opinion to have reached. 

(It is almost a piece of historical irony that Crabbe, the 
creator of that antidote to rural sentiment, " The Village " 
was a Dorset vicar in this reign and an absentee. He held 
the living of Evershot from 1783 to 1786, but never resided 
there. For him the female amenities of Trowbridge.) 

George's long reign was in many ways an age of personal 
and even aggressive philanthropy. Perhaps the stoutest - 
hearted of all its Dorset benefactors was a certain Benjamin 
Jesty, of Worth Matravers. He is an ornament to the local 
history of medicine a history which includes not only the 
odd characters already mentioned, but the great name of 
Sydenham, and lesser lights like Case and Sagittary. Mr. 
Jesty discovered, many years before Jenner, the art of 
inoculating for small-pox ; and his epitaph records his 
" fortitude." He made the first test of his discovery on 
his wife. 

Amid all the absurdities, all the complacent and all the 
really sincere effort, deeper fires were burning. John 
Wesley, grandson of the Charmouth parson, included the 
county in some of his itineraries. He was at Corfe in 
1774: 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 231 

" When we came to Corfe Castle, the evening being 
quite calm and mild, I preached in a meadow near the town, 
to a deeply attentive congregation gathered from all parts 
of the island. I afterwards met the society, artless and 
teachable, and full of good desires. But few of them yet 
have got any farther than to ' see men as trees walking.' " 

Two days later he visited the ruins of Corfe Castle, which 
impressed him greatly : especially one small detail. " Some 
time since the proprietor fitted up some rooms on the south- 
west side, and laid out a little garden, commanding a large 
prospect, pleasant beyond description. For a while he was 
greatly delighted with it ; but the eye was not satisfied 
with seeing. It grew familiar, it pleased no more, and is now 
all run to ruin. No wonder ; what can delight always but 
the knowledge and love of God ? " 

He went on to Langton Matr avers, but " did not find 
any among them " ("a large and deeply serious congrega- 
tion ") " who knew in whom they believed." And to 
Swanage, where three or four persons (" and all of one 
family ") " seemed really to enjoy the faith of the gospel. 
Few others . . . appeared to be convinced of sin. I fear 
the preachers have been more studious to please than to 
awaken, or there would have been a deeper work." 

Perhaps the best summary of the epoch's self-satisfaction 
is hi an epitaph of a slightly earlier period that on the 
monument in Sherborne Abbey to the fourth Lord Digby, 
who died in 1696. It records his dignities " titles to which 
the merits of his grandfather first gave lustre, and which 
he himself laid down unsullyd. He was naturally enclined 
to avoid the hurry of a publick Life, yet careful to keep up 
the port of his Quality, was willing to be at ease but scorned 
obscurity ; and therefore never made his Refinement a 
pretence to draw himself within a narrower compass, or to 
shun such expense as Charity, Hospitality and his Honour 
called for. His Religion was that which by Law is 
established, and the Conduct of his Life showed the power of 
it in his Heart. His distinction from others never made him 



232 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

forget himself or them. He was kind and obliging to his 
neighbours, generous and condescending to his inferiors, 
and just to all Mankind. Nor had the temptations of honour 
and pleasure in this world strength enough to withdraw 
his Eyes from that great Object of his hope, which we 
reasonably assure ourselves he now enjoys." 

The walk which will cover this admirable epoch of our 
history is a very short one. It begins at the very bottom 
of the cup in which Lyme Regis lies near the River 
Buddie, just where, within my own memory, Mary Anning's 
gabled house blocked what is still about the narrowest and 
most dangerous corner on any main road in Britain. Go 
through the posts towards the glimpse of sea, and behold 
all the sea anyone needs : all the sea from Start Port to 
Portland Bill, and the cliffs thereof. There is a curved 
walk right round the " front " (by the way, who invented 
the words Esplanade and Parade ? But Lyme is not so 
sordid as to need them). You will find a raised wall and 
promenade past some of the smallest and most decent 
houses in the world. Here, in Jane Austen's words, several 
past occupants have " thrown out a bow " : curved bows 
of the proper Bertram type, facing a sea which must often 
threaten them : graceful absurdities whispering the en- 
chantments of a lost domesticity. 

You will reach eventually a bathing beach. For those 
used to more robust efforts, the bathing at Lyme is about the 
worst known : equalled in my experience only by that at 
Swanage and Studland in Dorset, and at places like Little- 
hampton in Sussex. It seems that you could almost walk to 
France with no water higher than your knees, if it were not 
(at Lyme) for the silly sharp rocks (laminated, not rugose), 
which try to prevent your having any legs at all below the 
knees. (It is only fair to say that the Cobb provides aquatics 
of quite a different sort.) 

You will also come along the marine walk to strange 
concrete erections, monuments of the Eternal Mind of Man. 
The earth has here a tendency to slide into the sea, and so 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 233 

its parasites desired to keep it above water. Rediscovering 
Rome's craft of concrete building, they fortified the sloping 
cliff with arches. It would seem that they originally in- 
tended some civic adornment of Lyme, for the arches 
resemble the beginning of those ignoble arcades, pleasaunces, 
promenades I know not what to call them which defile 
every few miles of the coast of Sussex : the beginnings, 
in fact, of a Front or even a Winter Garden. But they are 
fortunately rudiments only, and you may pass them in 
moral and physical safety moral, because there is no band- 
stand ; physical, because, through their presence, you need 
not beware the awful avalanche. 

I cannot avoid that last quotation. All the mellowness 
of Longfellow must descend upon one at Lyme. A few 
score yards past the f err o -concrete you come to the very 
house where Jane Austen lodged. So suitable a house : 
smiling silently, like La Gioconda, with no change of expres- 
sion in any weather, upon the ancient Cobb and the delicious 
promenade and the huge cliffs alike. " Golden Cap : yes, 
a very striking eminence. Gun Cliff the Assembly Rooms 
are there, are they not ? The Cobb a very fine undertaking, 
but a little boisterous and rude for elegant females. " Never- 
theless, the eternal fires are there, behind the bow-windows 
and the twinkling lights, and lovers looked out then as now 
over the far -stretched cliffs. This demure little walk was the 
only thing upon which Jane Austen let herself go, the only 
place she ever described with enthusiasm. 

Tennyson, according to a famous anecdote, arrived at 
Lyme over the hills from Bridport on a visit to the discreet 
Palgrave, and demanded at once to be taken to the spot 
where Louisa Musgrove " fell to the pavement and was taken 
up lifeless." It was the right spirit. Controversy has raged 
upon the point of where Louisa lapsed. My own opinion is 
that " Granny's Teeth " are too terrible for an elegant 
young lady of the time, but that any other set of steps will 
do for her arch proceedings. At any rate the Cobb is as 
beautiful now as then. It is the only pier of its length 



234 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

I know in England which remains unspoilt by trains, docks, 
entertainments, automatic machines, turnstiles or officials. 

You can see something like what the old prints of the Cobb 
depict, in the curving breakwater where the few steamers 
touch. On the seaward side are the big more roughly shaped 
stones of the Elizabethan or even earlier breakwater. I can 
conceive no more contented isolation than to sit idly upon 
the wall of this pier, looking at empty space, or the antics 
of modern life, or the gracefulness of modern Lyme, or the 
bracken and blackberries on the happy hills. 

Now go up the hill past the few needful offices and some 
not good later buildings, to the main street of Lyme. By 
this road you come upon it at its most lovely stage where 
the roads fork for Axmouth and Uplyme. The street that 
drops away at your feet eastwards " almost hurrying into 
the sea," as Miss Austen wrote is to me far more beautiful 
than those of Clovelly or Robin Hood's Bay or Whitby. 
It is the most complete late eighteenth-century street in 
England, in spite of one or two vile molestations. And 
through and beyond the gracious houses you look over the 
incomparable bay : Stonebarrow Hill, Golden Cap, Thorn- 
combe Beacon, even the little sheer cliffs by Burton, right 
across the curve of foam to Portland. 

Close to you, as you enter by this road, is an elaborate 
modern chapel set up by a local rich. Avoid it, and also the 
public gardens, except as a short cut. Look rather inwards 
at the serene building nearly opposite, with conventional 
flower -pots crowning its decent fa$ade : even though the 
excisions made by commerce hurt the proportions, it is 
still desirable. And then there is the smithy and its old 
cottage, and then the Retreat. Mary Russell Mitford once 
lived at the Retreat, a wholly delightful house whose late 
tenant was an impressive survival of the dignity of a little 
town's life. In the sloping garden beyond the well-pro- 
portioned rooms Brooms that Fanny and Edward Bertram 
could well have made their home, with never the need to 
achieve a single improvement you will find the very stone 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 235 

arbour and the nut trees and the river by whose side 
Miss Mitford maintained that insatiable father of hers. 

The house stands on the site of the stables of the Great 
House, to which the first William Pitt (Chatham) was a 
frequent visitor. The chemist's shop next door represents 
the Great House. Opposite is a place of business to which 
I am fain to pay tribute, for it belongs to one of the last of 
the provincial bookselling houses to do what all local 
publishers should do produce their local histories. The 
firm of Dunster gave to the historians of England the works 
of Roberts of Lyme Regis : the man who made Macaulay's 
chapter on Monmouth's rising possible, and who chronicled 
his native town and the social life of the south-west with the 
widest knowledge and accuracy. He was mayor of Lyme in 
1848. The same firm, still, I am glad to say, aware of a 
traditional pride in bookselling, tried, within my own 
generation, to produce a local literary magazine of high 
standing. They obtained, among others, Palgrave as a 
contributor : but Lyme did not live up to the ideal, and 
The Grove died in 1892. 

A little lower down, on the same side, was born Francis 
Bickley, the author of an admirable book on Where Dorset 
meets Devon, and of a sound Life of Prior, and of much good 
criticism in the contemporary Press. 

The street is marred by certain new buildings which 
affront the eye just below this stage. But within a few 
yards it regains its sedate beauty, and nothing could be 
better than the confrontation of the two chief hotels, the 
Royal Lion and the Three Cups. The Cups is the older 
house, and seems to go back to at least Stuart times in 
name and site. But they are both models of what a country 
inn of the better sort should appear to be. 

And that brings me to an experience which makes one 
think about the practical details of civilization in a world 
to which I hope we may one day return : a world in which 
the simpler conveniences of life can be procured by travellers 
upon reasonable terms. 



236 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

I went for lunch to the Royal Lion* one Sunday 
nearly a quarter of a century ago, with four or five friends, 
on a Sunday in spring ; we had walked, like Tennyson, over 
the cliffs from Bridport, and were hungry and a little tired. 
We found an excellent coffee room ; and for 2s. 6d. each we 
ate (i) dressed crab, lots and lots of it ; (ii) Easter lamb, the 
real Dorset lamb ; (iii) a fruit tart of surpassing excellence ; 
(iv) Blue Vinney in good condition and in its proper state 
a whole cheese. Cider was not absent. We were waited 
on by a civil maid. After what I can only call a heavy lunch, 
we were not disposed to set forth at once on our walk back 
to Bridport (by road, not over the mountains). So we went 
to what was then a cosy panelled bar -parlour, across the 
hall-entrance, and found the comfortable landlord, and had 
some excellent liqueur brandy. We talked to our host freely 
of our adventures on the hills. Presently he said, " Well, 
gentlemen, it's closing time now, and I'm going to have a 
nap. I daresay you're not wanting to start back yet. Of 
course this is Sunday. But the billiard-room is at the back 
of the house " it was in the present dining-room " and 
if you like to go up there and rest and have a game, well, 
I've got no objection and no one'll know. And now I hope 
you'll have another little drop with me." 

His advice was followed in all respects. We stayed and 
had tea and walked back in the twilight, feeling that the 
world was a good friendly place, and swearing by the old 
dark hotel, with its rambling staircases, its fine collection 
of old sporting prints, its noble food, its wholly adequate 
host. 

I still swore by it a few years later when I did the same 
walk with a friend who unhappily lives only on grass and 
herbs, which for the moment I had forgotten when I told 
him of the good inn. Still, I promised him cheese and fruit 
and salad, having faith. We got there on a hot day in a 

* Nothing I say here bears upon the present management or facilities. 
The house has changed hands more than once since what I describe. 
In one or two casual visits recently (1921) I found the accommodation 
excellent, and the pretences to which I take exception do not exist. 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 287 

temper demanding a soothing reception. The first thing I 
noticed was that the bar -parlour was gone. It was now an 
open "lounge," full of plush and bamboo and wicker and 
full-bosomed ladies. The coffee room still stood, however, 
and in it waiters in " jimmy little Tuxedos." It appeared 
that cold beef could be obtained. But the pickles therewith 
were of an abhorrent type, and the only salad was a cucum- 
ber. My vegetarian friend was a little dismayed by this 
gourd. He asked what sweets there were. " Prunes and 
rice or stewed plums," said the polite Austrian waiter. 
It was midsummer. " What cheese is there ? Have you 
any Blue Vinney ? " The politeness of the alien faded, and 
a look of surprise came over his face ; he goggled. Some 
attempts to explain what was meant by Blue Vinney 
followed, and then the manager or proprietor likewise 
Central European was summoned. " No, sir, we haf no 
Blue Finney, but we haf some very goot Cheddar." " Do 
you get it direct from Cheddar ? " (Most of the towns and 
villages in the district do or did.) " Oh no, sir. We get it 
fresh every week from Harrod's." 

Now there are at this day several hotels in Dorset which 
live up to what you might call a good county or country 
standard. The Royal Lion is one. The Greyhound at 
Bridport, the King's Arms and Antelope at Dorchester, 
the Grosvenor Arms at Shaftesbury, are others ; and 
there are yet more. There are also quite a number ; which 
live up to what you might call a good village standard ; 
places where you can get a clean bed, eggs and bacon, and a 
chop or cold meat and decent cheese and civility.* (By the 

* Sometimes more than bare civility. At one little inn on the edge of 
Marshwood Vale, I went in and asked for bread and cheese. I was told 
I could have some cold beef and pickles and potatoes as well, and I assented 
greedily : I had walked fifteen miles. The landlord waited on me himself : 
he apologized for it, but explained that his wife was having a baby upstairs. 
I had lashings of really good food and three pints of home brewed cider 
(it was July). At the end I asked the reckoning. " Well, sir, I don't 
rightly know : I'd better leave it to you." I said I simply couldn't guess, 
and asked what it cost him, if he really did mean to leave it to me. " Well, 
shall we say a shilling ? " he replied. That, I fear, was in 1903. But I 
said even then something more than a shilling. 



238 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

way, how many chops are there in one sheep ? Why is there 
never a chop famine even in the lowliest village ?) But 
why should hotel keepers trying to be progressive merely 
succeed, as a rule, in getting near an average and usually 
dull uniformity a uniformity either in pretentious failure 
or in monotonous achievement ? 

Cheddar from Harrod's : excellent Cheddar, excellent 
Harrod : but why ? Dorset produces so much food as to 
be nearly self-supporting in all but cereals : and it is good 
food. Eat it. Don't send to London for substitutes. 

The fault, I think, lies in the guests, not in the hosts. 
Of course, at the present time many of the guests in country 
inns are apt to be more stupid, more hoggish and more 
exacting than before the war : they have only just made 
their money and adopted the hotel habit. (The good 
country hotel, not the big London restaurant, is the place 
to see the real profiteer expatiating, family and car and all.) 
But apart from and before that slight change, the guest was 
always, I think, prone to expect too much, and as a result 
to induce the production of too little. People who complain 
of English hotels usually speak as if they had a right to a 
pretty good French dinner in them at a minute's notice, 
or no notice at all. They demand at Lyme Regis, if they 
prefer English food, their Cheddar from Harrod's, their 
oysters from Scott's, their home-killed beef from Smithfield, 
instead of the Dorset horn lamb and the Blue Vinney of 
Marshwood Vale. They make odious comparisons, as if the 
bad cooking of poor food were confined to England. I have 
sometimes pulled a cosmopolitan leg by telling of that shilling 
meal of mine as one obtained in a fictitious Spanish village ; 
and the comment has almost always been " How unlike 
what you would get in England " : to my great joy. 

The result of that false standard is that the innkeeper 
becomes more ambitious than his knowledge and ability 
warrant. He tries to do things in style (a great phrase, 
that) : but he does not really know the style. 

And that is the end of this walk. We do not possess 



THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 289 

to-day the style which covers Lyme Regis with such con- 
spicuous perfection : the style of an age which at least knew 
when to leave off. If you yourself do not wish to leave 
off so soon, go up through the fields, over the Devil's 
Bellows and the bracken-lined cliffs, to Char mouth, and back 
along the shore. You will only gain fresh visions of the 
perfect discretion, the enduring and not-to-be contaminated 
beauty of Lyme of the King. 



XII 

" We had bell-ringing and beer-drinking the night that we received the 
list of the killed and wounded and likewise when we received your 
letter. The colours were hoisted on the tower. Mother had hard 
work to keep the beer barrell a -running. Our family is increased very 
much for we have had no less than thirteen puppies ; Blossom seven 
and Clara six. . . . All the Bridport Volunteers went to Church on 
Thanksgiving Day. ..." 

W. H. ROBERTS to his brother R. F. Roberts, 
aboard H.M.S. Victory, 1805; from Nelson's 
Hardy, by A. M. Broadley and R. G. Bartelot. 

" There is no London merchant telling over gold in his counting-house, no 
man-of-war's man standing his watch at sea, who does not owe his 
gold or his rights to the men who lived wretched days long ago aboard 
old wooden battleships under martinets. ... In order that our days 
might be pleasant, those thousands of long-dead sailors had to live 
and suffer. They passed rough days living hard, working hard, and 
dying hard. In order that we might live in peace at home they were 
dragged, with blows and curses, from their homes. In order that we 
might walk erect among men they cringed before tyrants, and lost 
their manhood at the gangway. . . . They passed, these mighty 
ones, in the blackness of the cockpit, in the roaring hell of the gun- 
deck, that we might hear no noise of battle. They were well pleased 
to live among thieves and infamous folk, that our conversation might 
be virtuous and our ways right ways. . . . Let us think that 
patriotism, in its true form, is of the kind they gave. It is not a song 
in the street, and a wreath on a column, and a flag flying from a 
window, and a pro-Boer under a pump. It is a thing very holy, and 
very terrible, like life itself. It is a burden to be borne ; a thing to 
labour for and to suffer for and to die for ; a thing which gives no 
happiness and no pleasantness but a hard life, an unknown grave, 
and the respect and bared heads of those who follow." 

JOHN MASEFIELD, 

Sea Life in Nelson's Time. 

** For what design these extraordinary events have been brought to pass, 
or for what purpose the present Atheistical Usurper is permitted to 
keep so large a part of the civilized world in subjection, remains 
concealed in the inscrutable councils (sic) of the Almighty." 

PEREGRINE BINGHAM, B.C.L., in the intro- 
duction to Dissertations by the Rev. George 
Bingham, 1804. 



XII 
MARINERS OF ENGLAND 




NOT long ago I spent a day of great happiness at and 
near Mosterton, a tiny village in a north-western 
projection of Dorset, near the Somerset border, in 
the Crewkerne district. Towards the end of the day, natural 
appetite and curiosity together led me into the New 
inn, a house dated 1751, but in architecture probably 
older. As I drank my beer, I asked the landlady about the 
building. She very kindly showed me over it, not without 
pride. It was the ancient manor-house of the Hood 
family, with timbers and stone floor, and staircases as old 
as they. 

The Dorset admirals are a remarkable group. I am 
not sure that they do not surpass those of Devon. The 
Hoods alone would give lustre to any county. The earliest 
noted family of the name seems to have lived in Charles II 's 
reign at Little Windsor in Marshwood Vale Alexander 

243 



244 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Hood. His collaterals and descendants were at Kingsland, 
near Bridport, at Mosterton, and in Somerset. The various 
branches of the family hover, so to speak, on the Somerset 
and Dorset border, and I am not going to claim them all as 
wholly Dorset men ; but they had Dorset in their blood, 
in one of their titles, and often for their home. 

The most notable of the race was Samuel, afterwards 
Viscount Hood " the best officer, take him altogether, that 
England has to boast of ; great in all situations which an 
admiral can be placed in," was Nelson's verdict. He was 
born in Somerset : his mother was a Beaminster woman. 
But his younger brother Alexander, first Viscount Bridport, 
was hardly less illustrious : his title was won at his " glorious 
first of June." His cousin of the next generation, Alexander, 
Captain of the Mars, served with distinction in the Napoleonic 
wars and died in action at the moment of victory, while 
his brother, Sir Samuel Hood, Vice-Admiral, fought under 
Nelson at the Nile, and in many other engagements. 

And the tradition holds good still. Rear -Admiral the 
Hon. H. L. A. Hood commanded H.M.S. Invincible at the 
battle of the Falkland Isles, and went down with her at 
the battle of Jutland. 

The Hoods are only the better known stars in the Dorset 
galaxy better known, that is, outside Dorset. Admiral 
Marriott Arbuthnot, born at Weymouth, served at Quiberon 
Bay and elsewhere, and under Lord Hood's colleague, 
Rodney. I am afraid that his record, though he was not 
wholly unsuccessful as a seaman, leads to the Dictionary of 
National Biography's conclusion he was " a late survival 
of the class of officer described under the name of Flip or 
Trunnion ... a coarse, blustering, foul-mouthed bully." 
He was conservative in tactics. Of a different type was 
Admiral Sir William Domett of Hawkchurch, an officer 
under both Lord Hood and Lord Bridport (with whom he 
was on the First of June) and also under Nelson. He futher- 
more held office on land, at the Admiralty. 

Yet another Dorset family produced admirals the Ryves' 






MARINERS OF ENGLAND 245 

of Damory Court, Blandford : a family which also gave to 
England in the seventeenth century a Dean of Windsor, a 
Warden of New College, an Attorney-General for Ireland, 
and a judge. The more notable of their two admirals was 
Rear -Admiral George Frederick Ryves. He too served under 
Arbuthnot and Nelson. His eldest son likewise became a 
rear-admiral, and four others served in the navy. 

It may be worth w^hile here, in view of a later reference, 
to mention also two sailors of yet another family two sons 
of Lord Dorchester of Milton Abbas, who in 1788 were borne 
on the books of H.M.S. Thistle without having been aboard 
her at all. 

On the civil side there may be interpolated here two 
other figures. The first bears the later Dorset name of 
Nepean of Loders. Sir Evan Nepean, Secretary of the 
Admiralty throughout the period of the victories of Jervis 
and Nelson, bought the manor of Loders six years before 
Trafalgar : but he was a Cornishman by birth. And the 
great and good George Bubb Dodington's public services 
were rewarded by his holding the office of Treasurer of the 
Navy in 1744, 1755, and 1757. 

Many letters were addressed to Nepean by Nelson and 
by the seaman whose name in Dorset is best loved and 
remembered of them all ; " Nelson's Hardy." Sir Thomas 
Masterman Hardy, as I have said, was born at Kingston 
Russell ; but not long after his birth in 1769 his parents 
moved to Portisham, to which delicious village his memory 
turned throughout his long and varied life. He was sent in 
due course to Crewkerne grammar school. He first went to 
sea in 1781, under a Dorset captain, Francis Roberts, whose 
descendants still inhabit his home at Burton Bradstock. 
Hardy seems to have returned after a time for more school- 
ing, and to have been sent to the famous grammar school 
at Milton Abbas. There is some doubt about these years, 
but it is certain that in 1790 he was a midshipman under 
yet another Dorset captain, Alexander Hood of Nether- 
bury. He made his way by 1793 to a lieutenancy, and in that 






246 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

rank won in 1796 Nelson's warm commendation. It was 
about that time, perhaps, or a year or two before, that their 
close friendship (so valuable to the mercurial admiral) 
commenced. The action for which Hardy was praised was 
a curious one. He was in charge of La Sabina, a prize, with 
Lieut. Culverhouse, when his own ship, the Minerve, was 
attacked by a superior Spanish force. The two lieutenants 
hoisted the English colours above the Spanish, " evidently," 
says Nelson, " with the intention of attracting the attention 
of the (Spanish) Admiral," and drawing him off from 
Minerve. Minerve got away ; La Sabina was recaptured, 
and the two officers with her. " This is, Sir, an unpleasant 
tale," wrote Nelson to Jervis, " but the merits of every 
officer and man were conspicious through the whole of this 
arduous day." Hardy and his brave companion were taken, 
but exchanged almost immediately. " By God, I'll not lose 
Hardy," Nelson said a little later, when Hardy, trying to 
save a comrade's life, was in danger. 

Hardy took part in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1797) 
and not long afterwards got his captaincy (at the age of 
twenty-eight) from Jervis himself. It is unnecessary here 
to go into the full details of his life. He returned whenever 
he could to his beloved " Possum " (Portisham), whose 
ale and mutton he never wearied of praising. He became 
in due course Admiral, First Sea Lord, and Governor of 
Greenwich Hospital. At no time in his career, it seems 
safe to assert, did he fail to win affection and esteem from 
his companions, or to display complete efficiency in his 
profession. Everyone knows of the scene at Nelson's 
death. The late Mr. A. M. Broadley gives a homely version 
of it from an interlude inserted after Trafalgar in the 
traditional Dorset mummers' play : it is the shortest 
tragedy on record. Nelson and Hardy enter : 

" Nelson : Hardy, I be wownded. 
Hardy : Not mortually I hopes, my lord. 
Nelson : Mortually I be afeard. Kiss me, Hardy, thank 
God I've done my duty." 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 247 

There was another Dorset man at Nelson's side : young 
Roberts of Burton Bradstock, nephew of Hardy's first 
captain. It was he who reported that other fine saying of 
the greatest of all seamen his answer when he was asked 
not to wear his full uniform, because of the danger to which 
it exposed him " I was never afraid of my honour." 
Roberts tells, too, how for every enemy ship that struck 
our men gave three cheers, " which was re-echoed by some 
of the poor wounded then in the cockpit, and it seemed to 
give new life to Lord Nelson." 

Mr. Broadley commemorates other Dorset Trafalgar 
captains : Admiral of the Blue Sir Charles Bullen who with 
his brother first went to sea under Marriott Arbuthnot and 
was instrumental in preventing the spread of the mutiny 
of the Nore and Admiral of the Blue Sir Henry Digby, 
who likewise first served under a Dorset admiral, his kinc- 
men Robert Digby of Sherborne. Admiralty ran in the 
Dorset families. 

Of the atmosphere on land in Dorset during the threatened 
Napoleonic invasion, apart from the personal interest of 
half of the county in its seamen individually, it would be 
useless to speak. The Trumpet Major and The Dynasts 
make any other comment, any general history, any further 
attempt to get into the spirit of the times, impertinent 
and unnecessary. It may be interesting to mention very 
briefly the practical steps taken for defence. Dumouriez, 
Pitt's adviser on coast-defence, recommended a certain 
number of batteries at the various river-mouths ; a camp on 
Ballard Down.; fairly strong fortification of Portland 
(" the western shore of Portland is not open to invasion " 
God help an invader in Deadman's Bay !) and posts at 
Abbotsbury, Charmouth, and Lyme. He thought the geogra 
phical position of the country important it was " the 
pivot on which the defence of the west of England turns." 
It ought to be defended " foot by foot with exceeding 
stubbornness." But he also thought it easy of defence. 
William Clavell (High Sheriff) and William Moreton Pitt, of 



248 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

whom I shall speak later, put forward schemes for mobiliza- 
tion which were rightly considered to be of more than local 
value. Clavell's plan for moving stock and property in 
case the invasion materialized was very like that secretly 
circulated officially in 1914 to leading men in country 
districts. George III himself thought the county " one of 
the most valuable parts of the Kingdom," and mentioned 
it in his letters. For the rest, Boney was the ogre, and 
Dorset, not unique in its apprehensions, is unique in 
possessing the intimate record of its feelings in Hardy's 
great novel. 

It must not be thought, however, that the French wars 
and the great admirals were all the maritime preoccupation 
of Dorset between Blake's battle off Portland and Trafalgar. 
It is in the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth 
that the direct relation between the sea and the land is 
made most convincingly evident. Privateering, piracy, and 
smuggling were not trades undertaken for fun, for adventure. 
Those who took them up were in them for life or death : for 
life, because the inhabitants of England needed desperately 
many of the smuggled or captured goods, and because the 
adventurers must themselves live by the seacraft they knew 
so well ; and for death, because death, which mattered less 
then than we esteem it to matter now, " will come when it 
will come," whether by a chance shot, or by the power of 
the sea, or by a Bridport dagger. 

I deem it to be in something of that compulsion of 
necessity, of the choice between life and death, that in 1695 
a Poole man performed a singular act of valour. In May of 
that year " William Thompson, master of a fishing boat, 
when fishing near the Isle of Purbeck, accompanied by only 
one man and a boy, perceived a privateer of Cherbourg 
bearing down upon him. He did not avoid the enemy, but 
prepared to defend himself in the best way he could, having 
two small guns mounted and some small arms. He was so 
successful in the encounter that in a short time he wounded 
the captain, the lieutenant, and six more of the French, so 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 249 

disheartening them that they bore away to avoid him. 
But Thompson in his turn, encouraged by his success, gave 
chase to the privateer, fired upon her incessantly for two 
hours, and at length compelled the enemy to surrender. 
He took possession of the sloop, and with fourteen prisoners 
brought her into Poole harbour." 

But Thompson was not the privateer's first assailant. The 
day before, another Poole captain had taken the offensive 
against the same enemy without hesitation. He might have 
pleaded that he was really a coast defender ; but as a matter 
of fact, I think, Captain Peter Joliffe was a privateer, 
whether licensed or not : other of his exploits are recorded. 
A ballad describes the action which preceded Thompson's, 
and was cut short only by nightfall. It extols Joliffe's 

powers : 

" Whate'er he took in hand did thrive ; 
Behold, this year of '95 
Full twenty sail of fishermen 
He freed from cruel Rovers then. 

" He had but one great gun aboard, 
And two young lads, which did afford 
But slender help, yet ne'er the less 
They flew before him in distress. 

" This privateer which he forsook, 
It was the same that Thompson took 
Next day ; therefore it will appear 
Few men like those of Dorsetshire." 

I am reminded by that gallant rhyme of another which 
was repeated to me by a mariner of Bridport Harbour 
a great many years ago. He and I and other old friends had 
had a sing-song in the parlour of the George inn (nursery 
of many friendships) ; and this ballad is one which all the 
fishermen knew, and sang with such sincere enjoyment 
that I desired the (to me) unfamiliar words. Dick, in his 
beautiful slow drawling voice, gave them to me the next 
day, breaking involuntarily into a sort of chant as he re- 
peated them. He said he had learnt the words and tune 






250 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

from his grandfather, with whom he (as a boy) and huj 
father used to go fishing off Bridport, especially at night. 
(They all had worked in the vanished shipyard.) I have been 
out with Dick on various errands, and I can see that little 
crew, picking up their lobster pots or letting down a line 
to the floor of the sea, whose every inch they knew by heart 
without ever having seen it, and finding their way back, 
by just smelling the wind, to the little dark difficult harbour. 
It was chiefly at night, Dick said, that they sang : perhaps 
not always such a holy and cheerful note as woke the 
unespied Bermudas, but anyhow good robust English. 
This is the song : 

" It was of two noble ships from England did set sail ; 
One's name was Prince of Lewis, and the other Prince of Wales. 
Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we, 
Cruising down on the coast of New Barbaree. 

" Look ahead, look astarn, look a- weather, look a-lee, 

Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we : 
O weather look-out man, ' A lofty sail,' said he, 
Cruising down on the coast of New Barbaree. 

" ' O hail her, O hail her,' our noble captain cried, 

Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we : 
' Are you a man of war, or a privateer you be, 

Cruising down on the coast of New Barbaree ? ' 

" ' I am no man of war, nor a privateer I be 

Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we. 
' But I am a noble pirate, a-cruising on the sea, 
Cruising down on the coast of New Barbaree.' 

" 'Then it's quarters for quarters,' our noble captain cried, 

Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we : 

And the quarters that we showed to them, we sank them in the sea, 
Cruising down on the coast of New Barbaree. 

" So now this noble pirate is coming to an end, 

Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we : 

With the ship she was their coffin, their grave it was the sea, 
Sunk down on the coast of New Barbaree." 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 251 

It is taken down verbatim, grammar, syntax, and all. I 
sent a copy to Mr. John Masefield, who had recently published 
his admirable Sailor's Garland. New Barbaree is, of course, a 
well-known sea-song, of great age. If Dick's grandfather 
knew it as a boy, as I was told, he must have learnt it about 
the time of Trafalgar. But Mr. Masefield, whose book in- 
cluded a version of it, thought Dick's was older than his 
probably going back, by oral tradition, almost to the seven- 
teenth century, when the " noble pirate " from the coast 
of New Barbaree was a real and present menace. 

" The ship she was their coffin, their grave it was the sea." 
Life and death are real upon the sea, whatever your lawful 
or unlawful occasions. A Dorset map of 1763 records 
three recent wrecks on the coast between Bridport and 
Abbotsbury not, in many ways, a dangerous seaboard. 
In one case, off Swyre, " a Logwood ship taken by the 
Culloden was stranded here and the boat thrown over the 
beach on a wall." 

The smuggling and privateering industries certainly 
prospered in Dorset during this period. I have spoken 
of the gipsies' adventures, and perhaps have given them 
an epic turn. But these tales are not romances. They 
are the warp and woof of the life of the people of Dorset, 
as well as of other counties. You do not risk your neck for 
the benefit of a novelist a hundred and fifty years later, 
and you do not become a criminal (even if the law is going 
to be altered sometime after you are dead, and realtered 
later by a Free Trade Prime Minister) for the mere love of 
adventure. The notorious and horrible Chater case brings 
a few realities to the surface. Certain smugglers in 1747 
tried to land a large cargo of tea on the Dorset coast ; but 
it was seized and stored at Poole. Such was the power of 
the Free Traders that they attacked Poole Custom House 
openly in force and recovered the goods. But the channels 
of distribution on this occasion leaked. The tea was taken 
inland by way of Fordingbridge : I am inclined to conjecture, 
from comparison with the Canning case, that there was a 



252 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 






smugglers' clearing house in that district probably near 
"Tipput" (Tidpit, a deserted hamlet on a Neolithic track- 
way near the Avon before it leaves the Wiltshire downs) : 
just as there was near Tonbridge on the Upper Medway 
for Kent and East Sussex. At Fordingbridge, Daniel 
Chater who acted, not wholly creditably, as a common 
informer recognized one of the carriers, and laid an 
information. I need not go into the details of the proceed- 
ings which followed. The man recognized was arrested. 
The smugglers took their revenge. They captured Chater 
and a tide-waiter named Galley who had been officially 
connected with him, and after dragging them across Hamp- 
shire beat them to death : or rather beat Galley to death 
and Chater almost : Chater they finished off by dropping 
him down a well. The later events took place in Sussex. 
Eight of the smugglers were caught (not at all easily) and 
hanged. 

A story like it is remembered in Sussex to-day, I was told 
in West Sussex, by one who owns the original documents of 
the careful accounts kept by his smuggling ancestors during 
that time : how a carrier received so much a journey, what 
the journey was, to what centre (that is the important 
point) ; and from that our casual talk which was shared 
with a number of small farmers drifted to the general 
question of smuggling. My companions all dwelt on the 
local case (I had not mentioned Chater 's). The scene of 
the beating to death was Slindon, and they knew the inn 
where it took place ; and they said that the murdered 
man, then only half dead, was dragged eight or ten miles or 
so to Parham, not far from where we were, and despatched. 

This tale I have not troubled to pursue in detail : it is 
duly chronicled elsewhere. The Chater case is recorded by 
Messrs. Atton and Holland (in The King's Customs), who 
have had access to official papers. It proves, I think, the 
intensity and widespread influence of the Free Trade : 
and the Sussex gossip, which also follows known fact, is 
more than suggestive. In West Sussex, in oral tradition, 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 253 

and in London and East Sussex in official documents, is 
the still sounding echo of deeds that took place a century 
and a half ago a deed, in that special instance, commenced 
in Poole and consummated two counties away. 

And this mixed evidence almost proves also, to my mind, 
what the Canning case suggests the existence of a vast 
concealed machinery of distribution, well controlled, with 
well-chosen clearing houses, well-chosen routes, secret 
agents everywhere. Smuggling was not a question of a 
chance sea-captain knowing a chance longshoreman and 
running a cargo with a theatrical apparatus of lamps on a 
cliff. It was an industry, a huge organized industry, employ- 
ing a large number of " workpeople." It is useless to smuggle 
except in a pettifogging way, or except in connection with 
very precious small articles like diamonds, saccharine, and 
cocaine unless you do it on an industrial scale.* I was 
told this, it is amusing to record, by a certain excise officer 
who at the same time boasted that he knew very well what 
came ashore at his little port, and nothing excisable could 
get past him. A skipper near by winked at me, and told 
me later that the tobacco " Customs " was then smoking, 
which he had bought in the inn, was itself smuggled ; and 
the next day I had the pleasure of seeing Customs lend the 
landlord a hand with a case of brandy (on which duty had 
been paid) up to the inn, without knowing that the case also 
contained other goods on which duty had not been paid. 
But this was only trivial and on a small scale : no life or 
death about it. (The persons concerned are all dead.) 

But there were kindlier seafarers in Dorset than the 
smugglers, humbler men than the admirals, men with a 
little more vision, perhaps, than the privateers. One of 
them lives, I hope, for ever, even if his work may not : 
the creator of the Foundling Hospital. 

Thomas Coram was born in Lyme Regis in 1668. How 
he spent all the eighty-four years of his active life is not 

* See the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921. As Mr. Pecksniff said, 
" If anybody knows ... an eligible opportunity now offers . . ." 



254 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

fully known. He followed the sea in his early years, appar- 
ently, and then settled, appropriately enough for a Dorset 
man, in Massachusetts, where he gave to the town of Taunton 
land for a church or school, as occasion might arise : and 
Mr. Speaker Onslow, a " warm friend " of his, gave, for the 
use of the church subsequently built, a Book of Common 
Prayer. Coram seems to have been a shipwright, and 
eventually a shipowner, interested again in the Dorset 
manner in the American fisheries. Indeed, that interest 
gave him a title to fame not less authentic than his erection 
of the Foundling Hospital. In 1735 he laid a memorial 
before the King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council, re- 
presenting that the cod-fisheries of Nova Scotia should be 
developed, the country settled by " a competent number of 
industrious Protestant families," and a suitable salt-station 
for its benefit created in the Bahamas. After long considera- 
tions and delay his project was carried out. There was no 
noisy glory about this solid little achievement. It was a 
quiet piece of what we have since been conjured to call 
Empire-building. 

As shipwright and shipmaster Coram prospered reasonably 
and returned to England and settled in London about 
1719. " While he lived in that part of this metropolis 
which is the common residence of seafaring people " 
there are no further details : was it Ratcliffe or Wapping ? 
I hope he lived near Captain Cook, his younger contem- 
porary, in Stepney " he used to come early into the city 
and return late, according as his business required his 
presence ; and both these circumstances afforded him fre- 
quent occasions of seeing young children exposed, sometimes 
alive, sometimes dead, and sometimes dying, which affected 
him extremely." 

It took him seventeen years to affect other people ex- 
tremely in this matter. Towards the end of these years of 
effort, says his biographer, " this good man, whose head 
was fertile in expedients, bethought himself at last of 
applying to the ladies. He knew their nature, he knew their 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 255 

influence, and soon found that he was in the right road. 
They did not listen much to his arguments, for the sweetness 
of their own tempers supplied a tenderness that rendered 
arguments unnecessary." On October 17, 1729, he obtained 
the chaiter of incorporation for an institution " for the 
maintenance and education of deserted young children." 

The charity is said to have been abused not perhaps to 
the extent of making illegitimate child-bearing a wide- 
spread habit, but at least enough to cause drastic revision 
of the Foundling's rules, because the parish officers " emptied 
their workhouses of the infant poor," dumping them in the 
basket of reception hung outside the hospital. I have 
attended the famous Sunday service there in these days, 
and been shown the charming buildings by an obsequious 
attendant ; and I do not like charitable institutions any 
more than I like almshouses ; charity creates a multitude 
of sins. Nevertheless, the name of Thomas Coram deserves 
to live. He spent his hot-headed enthusiastic life in trying 
to do good. He spent also his money money indubitably 
earned by his own exertions, for he was the son of a sea- 
going ship's captain and did not start with wealth. He 
died, as his epitaph says, " poor in worldly estate, rich in 
good works." Towards the end of his life he himself was 
kept by charity : a public subscription was opened for him, 
and when he was asked if it would offend him, he answered 
sturdily, " I have not wasted the little wealth I formerly 
possessed in self-indulgence and vain expenses, and am not 
ashamed to confess that, in this my old age, I am poor." 
" He lived above the fear of anything but an unworthy 
action." That is one eulogy of him : I think the simpler 
and better is in the words I have quoted " this good 
man." 

It is a curious and touching thing, the simplicity of the 
seafaring life. The little " ports of stranded pride " seem 
to preserve it, and its grandeur, too, in a more intimate 
manner than the great harbours. In the homeliest terms 
in daily uee alongshore, there is often something large and 



256 



THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 



unexpected. Ask a creeping coaster whither he is bound. 
He will not say to the Thames or London : he will say to 
London River. It is a more majestic and spacious con- 
ception : it is geography in plain speech. Or look at the 
humble voyages taken at a peradventure. I remember once 
seeing a brand new Scandinavian ship come into Bridport 
Harbour. It was her maiden voyage just from Sweden 
to this forgotten harbour, with timber. She was a lovely 
boat, her decks shining, her paint all new, her tackle glisten- 
ing, all her little bolts and blocks glorious. She was going 
out in ballast to Cadiz, to pick up a cargo there : and thence 
across the ocean to Rio, where the skipper hoped (but with 
no certainty) to find some other load, and fare onwards 
wherever the need might take him. All over the world on 
chance. 

I remember, too, one splendid land-fall in the autumn of 
1914. It must have given to seafaring men some sense, 
however dim, of the security which has been won in and by 
England. On August 2nd a little schooner set out from 
Archangel for Bridport. She was turned back from the 
North Sea by reason of enemy mines, and she must voyage 
all round the Shetlands and so into St. George's Channel 
and round the Lizard. She touched at Lerwick and re- 
provisioned for this longer journey. Down the western 
coast she met with contrary winds, but she put in nowhere. 
It was ten weeks before she turned well up Channel, and then 
the tides and winds together were unfriendly ; for among 
other hostile acts, Nature forbids entrance to Bridport 
Harbour at low tide and when the wind is off shore. She 
must beat on and off a few miles out for two days or more ; 
and meanwhile every crumb of food on board was con- 
sumed. She could have made some Devon port without 
trouble ; but West Bay was her journey's end, and to West 
Bay alone in all the world would she go. And so at last, 
after every known peril of the sea, starving but unconquered, 
her crew of six brought her to the mark-buoy. The pilot 
went aboard, and as the sun set she swayed slowly in ; 




II 

Q 8 

a ^ 

"! 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 257 

her Danish captain, a gay and gallant figure in bright blue 
trousers and a golden shirt, waving his hat in cheerful 
inarticulate triumph ; for though he had come safe to the 
one place in England he desired to reach, he could speak 
hardly a word of English. 

If I want to feel really English, to draw into myself the 
life of the English sea, I will go to Bridport Harbour, and 
look at those little coasting vessels that have begun again to 
creep into the basin since the war. I will pat the large 
bollards the wooden ones, like the wooden piles, are being 
changed for concrete look once more at the painting of a 
three-decker on the rocket-house wall ; go into the Old 
Custom House one of two " old " custom houses and 
tread the stone flags and see again the faded lettering, 
" Long Room " and " Collector's Room," on the blackening 
doors : walk through Good's yard, up the brick and stone 
staircase climbing the enormous side of the barn, smell the 
timber and grain and rafters in the long upper floor with the 
square unglazed window looking over the Channel. And 
then I shall go up over the East Cliff, all among the horned 
sheep and the golfers, on a pilgrimage along the coast, past 
the villages that have bred so many seamen. 

I shall not follow the shorter path inland, but the cliff 
edge, down into Port Coombe where the rabbits are, over 
the top and down to Burton Freshwater. O most desirable 
of places ! From nowhere are you not lovely. From the 
the road you are a green perspective for the golden beach 
and blue sea ; from the sea, beyond the carpet of pink 
thrift and yellow poppies, between your flaming cliffs, 
another green perspective for the stream (lined with comfrey 
and loosestrife) and the adorable village, with its grave 
simple church, its trees full of rooks, its meadows noisy 
with plover. This side the fields of asphodel, I want no 
more. 

I come in due time by the field path alongside the magical 
river to Burton Bradstock itself : through Love Lane. 
Love Lane, a row of thatched cottages : life and love alike, 



258 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

I daresay, are imperfect : no doubt these cottages also are 
imperfect : but not to me. 

If you are a single-minded worshipper of external beauty 
you can stand a whole day in Burton in looking and looking 
and looking at the exterior of its cottages. There is not a 
bad building, from an aesthetic point of view, in the place, 
except the chief inn, and that is no worse than amusing. 
Your eye will wander over a wall and see here the amazing 
rich depth of gold in its stone : there the delicacy of the grey- 
green lichen : there the vivid blue of a periwinkle blossom, 
or the crimson of a fuchsia : here the admirable masonry of 
a dripstone, there the warm intimacy of a thatched eave. 
Or you can sit outside the inn, on the pavement, and see the 
narrow roads dropping away at your feet, or on the seats 
round the gossips' tree, and rest your eye always on peace 
and beauty. 

From Love Lane go over the fields close to the two 
outrageous red villas half a mile away, just above the beach : 
hateful landmarks for many miles. Pass them and go up 
over the little hill to the decent yellow coastguard station, 
with its border, in the coastguard station manner of white- 
washed stones. After that you can choose either of two 
ways along the shore, or a little higher, by the road. 

Along the shore you pass Burton or Cogden Mere, a place 
for many kinds of waterfowl. It varies curiously in its 
wetness. Do not try to take short-cuts in this region. 
There is a straight track along the inside of the curve of the 
Chesil Bank. In some seasons it is good going on thin 
grass : in others you have to plough over slippery shingle ; 
the condition depends on the force and number of recent 
gales. 

If you have a dog he will find and chase innumerable 
hares here ; yea, even on the beach itself. All these parts 
are full of them : I have seen as many as seventeen in a 
field at once, and I have also witnessed their fantastic 
March dances : once a party of friends caught a leveret with 
their bare hands. 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 259 

You walk four miles or so to the roar of the sea. In the 
calmest weather there is always a roar as the waves slide 
back down the deep slope of the shingle. It is unwise to 
bathe here alone, especially just below Swyre, where in 
addition to the strong undertow, there is at times a dangerous 
current.* Between that point and Burton, probably, is one 
end of the tide that sweeps up from Start Point : but the 
whole bay, with the Race at Portland and the currents at 
Deadman's Bay and west of Lyme Cobb, is at times 
menacing, for all its calm appearance. 

In due course you come to another seemly coastguard 
station, and pass below the farms of Bexington (which has 
an aisle all to itself in Puncknowle Church) and Labour-in- 
Vain, and then you must leave the shore before you reach 
the Fleet, and go by a footpath over the hill to the road that 
runs past Lord Ilchester's tropical gardens (full of exotic 
plants flourishing in the open all the year round), and so to 
the point where the main Burton road reaches level ground 
at last. 

If you go by the road you see the same great bay from 
higher ground. You climb slowly uphill for a mile, and then 
down into the tail end of Swyre, where the base of the village 
cross still stands as a loafing pitch. You turn sharply to 
the right and sharply to the left (many cyclists have been 
injured or even killed here in past days : there is a concealed 
gate round a right angle), and are then faced by about four 
miles uphill along the most beautiful coast road I know. It 
runs over open rough land, once much more fully cultivated 
than now, unhedged, sloping gently to the sea half a mile 
or so away ; and all along is the immense smooth curve 
between Portland and Start Point, until at last you reach 
Abbotsbury Camp and look down on that still more glorious 
view which I have already described. 

Looking back towards evening you get perhaps the finest 

* In the last year of the war the current saved a man's life. He was 
lashed to a piece of wood and washed ashore there, and pulled out just in 
time, after nearly a day in the water. His ship had been sunk by an enemy 
submarine. 



260 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

sight of all this pageantry of cliffs. You see the full majesty 
of the great hills which appear so noble from Lyme. From 
this Abbotsbury road, late in the day, you have them with 
the sun behind them, and they fall into a succession of sharp 
silhouettes, with purple dusk (deepening as it creeps west- 
ward) between each fold, and the sea like a lake at their feet. 

Abbotsbury, like Swyre, Burton, and Bridport Harbour, 
is a stronghold of the mackerel industry. Many thousands 
may come ashore in one catch ; I have seen seven thousand 
at a time. Often they are preceded by still more multitudin- 
ous catches of sprats, so numerous that the packed seine 
looks like a silver furze bush from their protruding heads 
and tails. The sprats hunt the " bait " little things an 
inch or two long who make the water close inshore black. 
The mackerel hunt the sprats. The porpoise, leaping 
joyously, hunt the mackerel, as may be seen on any fine 
August day. 

At Abbotsbury, when the season is near, a watch is still 
kept up from immemorial times. A looker -out sits with a 
great horn upon St. Catherine's Hill, or on the Chesil Bank, 
and when the water grows dark with fish, winds his horn ; 
whereupon the nets and boats mostly row-boats are 
hastily got out. I do not know how they dispose of the catch 
at Abbotsbury ; but at Bridport, directly the news of the 
fishes' coming is hinted, the chief local fish dealer rushes down 
in his cart from the town with dozens of boxes of all kinds, 
and supernumerary vehicles if the season is good nowadays 
sometimes with a motor lorry. If the catch is a big one, 
it is brought to the harbour steps in boats, and laboriously 
counted out into hundreds : for every hundred the boat 
owner puts aside a tally-fish his account and his per- 
quisite together. The price paid him varies : I have known 
it ten a penny. Odd fish large, fresh, and good can usually 
be bought by private persons for a penny or two a few 
more or less do not matter to a big catch. The boxes are 
hastily loaded up and trundled up the hill to Bridport. 
A small proportion is kept for local sale : at a price usually 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 261 

differing longo intervallo from that paid at the harbour 
steps. The rest go off by rail or road to Bristol or Salisbury 
or Bournemouth or London. And there is mirth in the 
Harbour inns that night. 

The mackerel, well cooked in half a dozen different 
ways and only half an hour dead, is as fair food as any 
man might seek. And if the trade were thoroughly organized, 
so that the fish reached small centres in the West directly 
and quickly, it might be made not only more profitable to 
the dealers than it is, but more profitable to the fishermen 
themselves. I will say nothing of the operations of a great 
trader who even in that remote region has tried to create 
better organization. Whether he succeeds or fails, I believe 
that this seasonal and uncertain trade could be put on a 
sounder footing. It requires three things it has not got : 
a sound and cheap and widespread telephone service, an 
efficient motor -lorry service (capable of other uses out of 
season), and a curing shed for the kippered mackerel, 
properly treated, is as good as any kippered herring ; and 
at present fresh fish not quickly distributed have to be used 
as manure. 

At Abbotsbury, according to Mr. H. J. Moule (in Somerset 
and Dorset Notes and Queries), there was, eighty or more 
years ago, a belief that boats could be bewitched : if so, they 
caught nothing. It is certainly strange how sometimes, 
when the sea is visibly swarming with fish, they will not be 
caught. The Abbotsbury men used to tie " holy stones " 
pebbles with a natural hole in them " to nails or staples in 
the bows, close beneath the gunwale," and they had a 
peculiar way of coiling their stern-ropes for the same 
purpose. 

I have spoken of the Abbey at Abbotsbury, but not of 
the Swannery. This is, I believe, the largest in the world. 
Before the war it held 1200 monstrous fine birds, the con- 
templation of which made you ill content, afterwards, 
with the skinny fowl of other waters. The lovely creatures 
have been kept there continuously since Henry VIII 's 



262 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

time, and possibly for many centuries earlier. They are 
very highly civilized. In the contrived walks you pass their 
nests and themselves at the closest quarters, not without 
awe ; because from elegant ornaments they may become 
fierce wild fowl. The veteran keeper once (outside the 
exhibition season in spring) pulled an old cob off his nest 
for me (the male and female take turns on the eggs), to show 
his weapons of offence. The keeper wore thick leather 
gaiters. The angry bird hissed, and put all hh hackles up : 
his neck became like a nutmeg-grater meant for cocoa- 
nuts. He pecked : and the sound on the gaiters was as 
that of a hammer. Then he spread his huge wings, and 
slapped with the outer pinions. It was as if a cane was being 
beaten on wood. And then he drew himself more erect. 
But at that the keeper for a moment deftly caught a wing 
pinion and pulled the wing out for me to see, the bird, still 
half tame, half wild, merely swearing. The keeper showed 
me the last weapon : a terrific knob, with a queer little 
hook in it, at the elbow joint (wrist joint, anatomically, 
for the pinions are our fingers ; but elbow is more natural). 
That had broken three ribs of an under -keeper not long ago. 
He drove the indignant father back to his nest, by gesticula- 
tion ; and he settled down sulkily. His lady was out 
shopping. 

I observed, in the course of several visits, not only how 
tame they were, but how effete. In the nesting season, 
great parcels of twigs are brought to the walks and thrown 
down. A few birds will do their own furnishing. The rest 
require help. The keeper, seeing a couple anxious to set up 
house together, takes a bundle of twigs and throw.3 it down 
in some likely haunt, and stirs it roughly into the form of a 
nest. Presently along comes Lord Cygnus, and notices the 
desirable mansion. He pulls a twig or two this way and that, 
and lo, a nest ! Exegit monumentum. And mighty proud 
he and his wife are of it. 

It is a wonderful sight, that great lagoon covered by vast 
snowflakes : wonderful to behold the heavy uprising of a 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 263 

flight of them, from the water, scattering along like an aero- 
plane before it lifts, for their bodies are heavy : wonderful 
also to see the tremendous impetus with which they touch 
the water again and rush through it till the resistance stops 
them : most wonderful of all to hear the glorious metallic 
clang of their wings as eight or ten in a V-shaped formation 
fly over your head, their beautiful long necks straight, 
their noble pinions flapping strongly in the tremendous 
carriage of their body. English birds have many flights 
more graceful, but none more impressive, nor, I think, 
more splendid than the swan's, unless it be the heron's. 

If you wander along from Abbotsbury on the inner 
side of the Fleet, you will be near the scene of various 
wrecks. The villages are chiefly a little inland, well sheltered 
from the inhospitable beach. I may add two disasters to 
those already mentioned. Below Fleet, in 1747, a Dutch 
boat, the Hope of Amsterdam, went ashore : most of her 
crew were saved. She carried about 50,000 in specie and 
jewels. The whole neighbourhood swarmed to the spot 
and carried off all they could lay hands upon. There were 
furious combats over the possession of the property. No 
one was killed in the tumult, but several perished of cold 
and exposure on the inhospitable Bank, as they wearily 
sought for loot. The military were called out, and eventually 
about 20,000 or 30,000 was recovered and salvage paid 
on it. 

A grimmer record still is that of the transports which set 
sail in 1795 under Abercrombie for the West Indies. They 
met a gale, and were blown haphazard on to the Bank. 
Two hundred and thirty-four bodies were recovered at 
various points. 

Just outside the entrance to the Swannery (down past 
the glorious barn, which in length surpasses that of Fro- 
cester, said by the invaluable Muirhead to be the largest 
in England, by 92 feet) is a board on a post some three times 
the height of a man. It tells how in 1824 the sea reached its 
summit at that spot. The pole is nearly half a mile inland 



264 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

from high-water mark. If you go down to the Chesil Beach 
and look at the stones, now far larger than at any point 
on your past walk, you will simply wonder : the only com- 
ment is " credo, quia incredibile." It did happen, because 
a ship at the same time was deposited on top of the Bank. 
This storm destroyed the old church at Fleet. That extra- 
ordinary effort of the sea was repeated in (I think) 1914, 
when a biggish iron coaster, the Dorothea, was lifted up on 
to the crest of the Beach by a huge sea. She lay there for 
the best part of one winter, and various salvage companies 
in turns sought to dislodge her, and lost their money. The 
third or fourth thought of the device of putting rollers just 
under her keel at the bows and digging the beach away : 
whereupon she slid back into her element. 

It is best not to pursue the coast here, but to walk on 
from Abbotsbury to Portisham Portesham or Possum : 
a little square village sleeping beneath the chalk hills. 
There is a pretty path across the fields to it. The best 
summary of the compact and pretty place is the motto of 
one of its sons Sir Andrew Riccard, a great East India 
merchant enriched in London by his own exertions, who 
died in 1672. He punned : " Possum " " I can." I do 
not suggest that the village, with its rivulets and stone 
houses, looks peculiarly efficient. But I am quite sure 
that anyone who came out of these beautiful cottages or 
worshipped in the beautiful church must be trustworthy 
in spite of all I have said about the smugglers. 

Hardy and the smugglers and others commemorated in the 
church showed that they lived up to the Latin pun they 
could and did. Here is buried a stout Royalist, not to be 
withheld from politics even after death : 

" William Weare lies here in dust 
As thou and I and all men must. 
Once plundered by Sabaean force 
Some called it war, but others worse 
With confidence he pleads his cause 
And King's to be above those laws. 
September's eighth day died he 
When near the date of 63, 
Anne Domini 1670." 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 265 

His slab is now outside the church. Inside is a memorial 
another of his family who died five years later, the wife 

>f Robert Weare (the race intermarried with various local 

families of repute) : 

" Underneath lies her whose actions pen'd 
The perfect copie of a friend : 
Whose good sweet heart did always shun 
Such things as ought not to be done. 
Rest there, for ever rest alone, 
Thy ashes can be touch'd by none." 

Can they not ? There are Norman remains, including a 
font, in this venerable building, whose stone has weathered 
with a peculiar graciousness. But where are the dead 
Normans ? Where are the ashes or the bones of all the 
innumerable dead innumerable even in a tiny village like 
this, whose written history goes back to Cnut ? I read that 
in excavating under St. Mary-le-Bow, in London, among 
structures several hundred years old, enquirers could dig 
no deeper than a few feet, because they came upon the under- 
lying dead, whom they would not willingly disturb. But 
we know that many coffins and skeletons for which search 
has been made have vanished, along with the pious decrees 
of their tenants. Where, for instance, at Wimborne, is King 
Ethelred, who has two brasses and no coffin ? Where is the 
martyr at Shaftesbury ? Where is " the perfect copy of a 
friend " here at Portisham ? Where are all the dead ? 

The rest of the country between Portisham and Wey- 
mouth, if you follow (approximately) the coast, is dull. 
Fleet, Langton Herring (" Alward held it in King Edward's 
time. Hugh son of Grip. . . ."), West Chickerel are 
negligible and uninteresting villages, and the country is 
undistinguished by anything except ordinary cultivation. 
Mohuns are buried at Fleet : their memorials record em- 
phatically their own worthiness, the chastity of their wives, 
and the serenity of James I. 

The roads hereabouts, before the days of charabancs, 
were good to walk upon for exercise, and no more. You can 



266 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

take a more desirable track either side of the railway froi 
Portisham, to Upwey : one side along the little chalk ridge 
of Friar Waddon, the other past nowhere in particular : 
both to Upwey, where you begin to realize how loathsorm 
the .suburbs of a modern watering-place can be. 

And so to Weymouth, which must have been muc] 
pleasanter in Farmer George's day than now. In the im- 
mortal phrase of Sam Lewis about Rome, "You can 'av< 
Weymouth." 

And yet, if you go down to the unfailing interest of the 
quay all quays are interesting or ferry across to the 
Nothe, or stand near the statue and look at the wonderful 
bay and the George III houses, it is impossible not to re- 
capture some of the meaning of Weymouth. Here, in this 
place that the holidays of an urban population have made so 
disagreeable, the Romans built a temple to other gods than 
ours if we have one. Here the Danes first slew a King's 
man. The town itself for centuries torn by the rivalry 
between Melcombe and Weymouth, now one stood up 
against the dominant Cinque Ports. It gave the Black 
Death to England. It sent ships to the Armada, and received 
their captures. It suffered in the usual way during the 
Civil War, and in the end grew, under the stimulus of 
George Ill's visit and the much later approach of the rail- 
ways, into a large thriving aggregation of human beings. 

What I complain of at Weymouth is not its prosperity 
or its efficiency, but the desperate ugliness, even sordidness 
of everything modern in it. Even its bridge is mean. The 
newer buildings have not so much as the credit of vulgarity 
on the grand scale. The amazing Jubilee clock is symbolical. 
It is of iron painted green and yellow, in the Public Lavatory 
Style, with a sort of bas-relief of Victoria on each of its 
sides.* 

* This appalling erection is probably the inspiration of another in the 
public gardens at Dorchester, smaller, quite as ugly, but much funnier, 
because the Dorchester donor, an ex -mayor, whose image facially is not at 
all calculated to recall the Antinous or the Hermes, has caused his own 
likeness to appear on each of the green and gold sides. He was a good 
citizen and benefactor, but this clock tower is a mistake. 



MARINERS OF ENGLAND 267 

Will our handiwork of that age ever be thought beautiful, 
as we now think that of the Georgian era beautiful ? I 
hope so : but I fear not. But I am sure, on the other hand, 
that modern life, with all its swollen triviality and deformity, 
can still produce the spirit of the older centuries : produce 
it as surely and as gaily as Trumpet -Major Loveday, of 
Button Poyntz, near Weymouth : " The candle held by his 
father shed its waving light upon John's face and uniform 
as with a farewell smile he turned on the doorstone, backed 
by the black night ; and in another moment he had plunged 
into the darkness, the ring of his smart step dying away upon 
the bridge as he joined his companions in arms, and went 
off to blow his trumpet till silenced for ever upon one of the 
bloody battlefields of Spain." 






XIII 

Britain, insignificant on the map of Europe, could scarcely sustain her 
starving sons with bread and water, were it not for her trade, hitherto 
secured in its pre-eminence by the operation of wise laws and in- 
stitutions by the character of a well-ordered and industrious popula- 
tion ; but, what are many of us now doing, let me ask you, my friends ? 
I will answer this question, from the speech in the House of Commons, 
of a gentleman whose ability to inform us, cannot be doubted, no 
friend of the present ministers. He plainly tells us that monied men 
will not remain to carry on trade and manufactures amongst a dis- 
satisfied people, who are threatening to throw all into confusion ; they 
are withdrawing themselves and their money into other countries. 
... I beseech you, my friends, to return into the good old-fashioned 
ways of common sense ; let us lay aside all these new-fangled notions 
that have been put into our heads, and industriously pursue our proper 
business. Let our behaviour to our superiors be decent, and respect- 
ful, looking on them with goodwill and kindness, taking pleasure in 
their prosperity this as Christians." 

The Friendly Fairy (Anon), 1820. 

" The ostensible object of these associations was to keep a check on their 
employers. . . . Every person, on being a member, bound himself by 
an oath administered in the most solemn manner, not to disclose any- 
thing which might take place among them. That these associations 
were most dangerous, no one could doubt ; it could not be proper that 
the working orders of the people should meet together, and bind 
themselves not to disclose their proceedings : it might be used for the 
most dangerous purposes as regards the welfare of the state." 

Counsel for prosecution in Rex v. Brice and others. 
Annual Register, 1834. 



XIII 
THE SEQUESTERED VALE 




FARMER GEORGE had taken a genuine interest in 
agriculture, and, whether through his direct in- 
fluence or not, his reign saw an immense improve- 
ment in methods of farming and stock-breeding. It was 
in the middle of the eighteenth century that the Dorset 
Horn sheep began to attract attention as a separate breed, 
and the Dorset Down sheep in 174:3 was said by Gawler 
(a bad poet) to " keep half the nation warm." But the larger 
changes implied in the term " high farming " did not reach 
the county in any marked degree till after George Ill's death. 
The peasants as a whole lived the life of haphazard squalor 
described by Fielding : keeping a pig or a cow, if they 
could, on the common land which still existed. " We 
present," said the Manorial Court of Grimstone in 1728, 
" that Margaret Slowe hath a right to drive sheep and cattle 
to and from Grimstone Common to a close of Meadow 

271 



272 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

called Smithams, over the currant (sic) called Muckleford 
Lake . . . and that John Sabbin and Robert Wood and 
others the inhabitants of Muckleford have deprived the said 
Margaret Slowe of the way by enlarging the said currant 
about two foot wider than it antiently was, which was done 
by cutting Grimstone Common." 

Not an enclosure, perhaps ; but at least an attempt to 
jump a communal claim of right. Here are communal 
duties : 

" 1753. We present that the tenants of this Manor shall 
go out on the 6th day of March next, and shall dig and drain 
the meadows, for carrying off the water, under a penalty 
of 6s. 8d. for everyone neglecting. . . . 

" 1781. We present that no pigs run about the streets 
or other Commonable places of this said Liberty and Manor 
under penalty of 5s." 

It would be foolish to assert that the enclosure of common 
land brought no benefits. It certainly made for better 
crops : it might in a few good cases make for greater 
amenities in village life. But ib did not, as eulogists of 
modern county society sometimes seem to hint, create 
Arcadias watched over and mustered by a benevolent 
squire : it simply deprived the pre-existing village of its 
thousand-year-old rights and conveniences. 

For with the enclosure independence became a greater 
sham than before. The villager was still tied to one place 
by the parish machinery, and he now lost the magic of his 
little property in the seized common. It is possible, as was 
claimed in a famous Somerset report, that that very property 
had made him idle. But the right to any leisure he could 
earn was hardly recognized : eighteenth-century landlords 
were as keen as Carlyle on work for the lower orders. 
What happened was that without his pig or cow or fowls on 
the common pasture the peasant had got to work solely 
for a wage a wage not likely to be made unduly high. 
Prices rose steadily, and the growth of the larger industrial 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 273 

centres, with their new machinery, killed the little local 
trades like weaving, baize-making, button-making, in which 
Dorset at least had been rich. 

The wage-earning farm labourer ... I know one alive 
now, a man of sixty or so, capable of begetting a strong 
progeny, who, on the estate of a good Dorset landlord, 
has never been able to afford to marry : he had to maintain 
his parents : and he is not a bad character ; on the contrary, 
his landlord respects him and aids him by gifts of comfort 
of comfort to a single man and of a friendly intercourse 
which is wholly admirable. A century and a quarter ago, 
in words which later he revised slightly so as to leave out 
the local application, Wordsworth (of all men he who 
uttered nothing base !) told a little of the truth about the 
Dorset poor : 

" Auld Goody Blake was old and poor, 
111 fed she was, and thinly clad ; 
And any man who pass'd her door 
Might see how poor a hut she had. 

" All day she spun in her poor dwelling, 
And then her three hours' work at night ! 
Alas ! 'twas hardly worth the telling, 
It would not pay for candlelight. 

" This woman dwelt in Dorsetshire, 
Her hut was on a cold hill-side, 
And in that country coals are dear, 
For they come far by wind and tide.*" 

Wordsworth in 1789, in the full glow of the Republican 
ardour which he lost with so much scorn in his later sonnets 
was at least symptomatic, from a political point of view, 
of a possible change in public opinion and taste. The lower 
orders were attracting notice, almost becoming fashionable. 
On the other hand, a lesser poet hard by, William Crowe 

* I suspect that the poet, not a rich man, may have suffered from that 
lack of coal at Racedown, on the edge of Marshwood Vale, the beautiful 
little house of the Pinneys in which he lived for a time : can it be that his 
removal to Nether Stowey brought him more coal and caused him to 
substitute in the poem the version now current, omitting all mention of 
fuel, and the name of the county. 
T 



274 



THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 



of Oxford and Stoke Abbott, felt compelled to apologize 
for doing what Lyrical Ballads did later without apology. 
Crowe was wont (a wise habit) to sit on Lewes don Hill 
and admire the prospect ; and he wrote a poem, Lewesdon 
Hill, " the fruit," as his epitaph at Stoke says, " of his 
musings upon that eminence." It is not at all a bad poem, 
by contemporary formal standards. The notes contain this 
prophetic counterblast to Wordsworth and Coleridge : 
" the author having ventured to introduce some provincial 
and other terms, takes this occasion to say that it is a 
liberty in which he has not indulged himself but when 
he conceived it to be allowable for the sake of ornament 
or expression." 

That is the unhappy converse of the kindly Georgian 
pomp the emphatic ignoring of the misery of the poor in 
so far as aristocratic benevolence did not touch it, and the 
hardly less obvious conviction of the necessity of such misery, 
which clearly, in so perfect a world, must be the natural 
result and reward of insubordination or immorality. There 
were, however, those who at least lifted up their voices 
against the vices of establishment. William Moreton Pitt, 
of the great family, M.P. for the county, and active in many 
useful projects, addressed " the landed interest " in 1791, 
on the subject of housing and fuel shortage. I do not feel 
sure that his words are irrelevant to-day. " A large pro- 
portion of the poor," he said, " are absolutely precluded 
from leaving the parishes in which they happen to reside ; 
if those, who have been removed by the order of two justices, 
again leave their place of legal settlement, they render 
themselves liable to punishment, as rogues and vagabonds ; 
and many, who have not been removed, but who have large 
families, and who of course suffer the most, are least able 
to change their places of residence, yet often cannot obtain 
?ottages to live in, though able and willing to pay rent. 

. . They have no resource but to be taken into a wretched 
poor-house, there to associate with the old, the infirm, and 
decrepid (sic), idiots and insane persons, the idle and 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 275 

dissolute, loathsome from filth, and infested with vermin." 
Thu Pitt (never mind the exact turn of his reasoning) 
pleaded, virtually, for smallholdings to be created from 
" rough, encumbered and uncultivated tracts of land " ; 
for the brewing of small beer in every cottage ; the keeping 
of pigs, the advancing of money in the form of purchased 
material. " It seems to me that the feelings, and even the 
prejudices of the poor, are entitled to the most full and 
dispassionate consideration. These workhouses are un- 
questionably places of confinement, and there can exist no 
right to consign people, because they are poor, to a prison, 
and to act towards them as if they were delinquents, 
because they cannot maintain themselves without assist- 
ance." He appended to his " address " full and careful 
plans of the cottages he wished to see built. 

Quite a different type of landlord was a town-planner 
of the same era Lord Dorchester of Milton Abbas, whose 
pompous and preposterous monument is in the exquisite 
Abbey. Horace Walpole describes him with some bitterness : 
"Lord Milton" his first title: he became Earl of Dorchester 
in 1792 " heir of Swift's old miser and usurer Damer, was 
the most arrogant and proud of men, with no foundation 
but great wealth and a match with the Duke of Dorset's 
daughter. His birth and parts were equally mean and 
contemptible." 

This gentleman of England, acquiring the estate of Milton 
Abbey, found the old village, which nestled beneath the 
shadows of the great tower, an eyesore : it was close to the 
windows of the ponderous neo-Gothic mansion Chambers 
built him. So, like the African magician in the case of 
Aladdin, he had it removed. He cared nothing for the 
villagers' protests : his workmen might make jests of their 
ancestors' bones in the old burial ground he would build 
them a fine new village : anyhow, he was not going to catch 
sight of them every time he looked out of the window. 

They were turned out neck and crop : the memory of the 
arbitary act lived long. On the other hand, Lord Dorchester 



276 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

built the present adorable village to receive them. But for 
one or two new and ugly houses, and an unimpressive 
church, it stands to-day as it was designed in 1786, a Noah's 
Ark street of square yellow houses at regular intervals, 
with chestnut trees in between and a backing of dark trees 
up each side of the ravine in which they are so admirably 
set. 

It was not only definite tyranny of that type which the 
labourers had to suffer. The agricultural reports of the 
time are a record of little but hard work and starvation : 
Eden's State of the Poor (1797) gives a labourer's 
budget. A man at Blandford had two daughters and two 
sons : his wife was dead. The elder daughter managed the 
house : the rest earned nothing. House-rent was paid by 
the parish. " The usual breakfast of the family is tea, or 
bread and cheese ; their dinner, and supper, bread and 
cheese, or potatoes sometimes mashed with fat taken from 
broth, and sometimes with salt alone. Bullock's cheek is 
generally bought every week to make broth. Treacle is used 
to sweeten tea, instead of sugar. Very little milk or beer is 
used. For clothing, both for himself and family, the man 
is principally indebted to the charity of his neighbours." 
His earnings that year were 17 9s. 6d. 

The food of the poor, wrote Stevenson in 1812 in an 
official report " is wheaten bread, skim-milk cheese, 
puddings, potatoes, and other vegetables, with a small 
quantity of pickled pork and bacon." The potatoes they 
probably grew on their employers' fallows, as they were 
allowed to do. The concession was an ingenious device, 
for it " affords a means of keeping the labourers more under 
subjection, and prevents their leaving their master at least 
during the summer, as in that case the crop would be 
forfeited." 

Stevenson says the land was badly farmed, as a rule. 
The tendency was to amalgamate small farms, which should 
have made for better methods. But John Claridge, reporting 
to the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement in 






THE SEQUESTERED VALE 277 

1793, states the drawback to that process. He is an expert 
and moderate writer. " In many parts of Dorsetshire," 
he says, " one man occupies a whole hamlet, parish, or 
lordship ; perhaps from 1500 to 2000 acres, which I fear 
has been too frequently made, by laying five or six farms 
together, and thereby striking a fatal blow at the little 
farmer, who is one of the most useful members of society.* 
The increase of large farms, evidently tends to place the 
great farmer at too wide a distance from the labourer, 
whom he considers a mere vassal, and though he employs 
him, and pays what he calls a customary price ; still it is 
out of the power of the labourer, either by strength or 
ingenuity, or the most indefatigable industry, scarcely to 
supply his family with the common necessaries of life ; 
and the moment his activity ceases, he becomes a pauper ; 
the most he finds himself in possession of, is a cottage, 
seldom in good repair, a very small garden, and he can 
hire no land, even if he has a friend inclined to assist him 
with money or credit." That is from an official document. 
We have lately abolished the Agricultural Wages Board, to 
the unconcealed joy of the farmer, and once more he " pays 
what he calls a customary price." 

If William IV had not been ready to create peers in 1831, 
to pass the Reform Bill, England might have had a revolution 
as bloody as the French one. Plans were ready for an armed 
rising. The agricultural labourer would not have been 
backward in such a movement. He had already begun to 
riot all over England. 

" On the 22nd of November," wrote Mary Frampton of 
the year 1830, " the first risings took place in this county. 
Mr. Portman [of Bryanston : afterwards Viscount Portman] 
immediately promised to raise the wages of his labourers, 
and by doing this without concert with other gentlemen, 
greatly increased their difficulties." At Winfrith, " the 
mob, urged on from behind hedges, etc., by a number of 
women and children, advanced rather respectfully, and 

* Perhaps ; in 1793 ; to-day only if he is very competent. 



278 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

with their hats in their hands, to demand increase of 
wages, but would not listen to the request that they would 
disperse." 

There were many rick-burnings ; the authors were as a 
rule untraced. The diarist records her satisfaction with the 
result in cases where conviction was possible. " One of 
the motions made by Mr. Hunt on the first day of his appear- 
ance in the House of Commons, was for a petition to the 
King, to pardon all the unhappy men who had been con- 
victed at the Special Assizes. Fortunately, however, as 
they were already on board the transports, and the wind 
fair, the petition would be too late. Care was taken . . . 
to send them to those parts of New Zealand and New 
Holland where their agricultural knowledge and labour 
might be useful thus very probably at a future time 
rendering our disturbances here a blessing to our Anti- 
podes." 

But in spite of such measures, the discontent and the 
disorder remained. In 1831 the Dorset Yeomanry were 
re-enrolled to cope with the situation. A contested election 
of a member for the county that year showed the height of 
feeling. Mr. Ponsonby and Lord Ashley were the can- 
didates, Lord Ashley standing for the gentry and farmers, 
Mr. Ponsonby for Reform. There was virtually a pitched 
battle at the poll at Poundbury. A house was destroyed at 
Blandford. Every pane of glass in Sherborne Castle was 
broken by rioters, as well as many in the town. A mob 
from Poole was expected to attack Corfe Castle and En- 
combe House, but the yeomanry were called out and held 
Wareham. " The minds of the common people," writes 
Mary Frampton, " are wickedly excited by persons of a 
somewhat higher class," who raised penny subscriptions to 
get reformers elected, and said that " ' Reform ' would give 
them meat as well as bread in abundance by paying only a 
quarter, if so much, of the present price for those articles. 
How can the poor resist such tempting language ? " I 
should prefer to ask, why should they ? 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 279 

All over the county, " bands of labourers assembled 
together, firing farmhouses, destroying machinery, and 
threatening the country houses of the gentry." Apart from 
the demonstration mentioned, there was a riot at Winfrith ; 
but Mr. James Frampton produced one hundred and forty 
mounted men, and charged the mob. The troops remained 
loyal ; as a eulogist wrote of the Blandford squadron : 

"... Should the Demon of Intestine strife 

Threat even our houses, our altar desecrate, 
Where is the Yeoman who would value life 

To Guard from Rapine all that's good and great ? " 

When the Reform Bill was first thrown out, there were 
further riots at Sherborne, quelled by the yeomanry. At 
Stour Provost rioters broke a threshing machine and sur- 
rounded the Rectory. The parson was an ex-officer of the 
Peninsular War. He had his own methods. He " singled 
out the ringleader, and having presented him with a 
sovereign, sent the rioters away well contented to spend it 
as they liked. The next day a detachment of Captain 
Jacob's troop from Sturminster Newton, under the command 
of a Non-Commissioned Officer named Harvey, came to the 
assistance of the Rector. The ringleader was apprehended, 
and sentenced to seven years' penal servitude." 

The culmination, in Dorset, was the episode of the little 
band of poor peasants known to history as the Dorchester 
labourers. 

The names of these unhappy men were George Loveless 
(who wrote a slightly rhetorical account of their sufferings), 
James Loveless, Thomas and John Stanfield (father and son ; 
John was the Loveless 's nephew ; a family " conspiracy " !) 
James Hammett, and James Brine. James Loveless 
apparently was the leader. He seems to have invented the 
ritual of oaths, blindfoldings, and costume under which they 
" conspired." They certainly did " conspire," in a technical 
sense. Equally certainly, almost every one set in authority 
over them from the moment of their arrest treated them as 



280 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

the vilest of criminals, without regard to the extent or 
ferocity of their conspiracy. 

Loveless gives this account of their grievances. " In 
the year 1831-2, there was a general movement of the work- 
ing-classes for an increase of wages, and the labouring men 
in the parish where I lived (Tolpiddle) gathered together, 
and met their employers, to ask them for an advance of 
wages, and they came to a mutual agreement, the masters 
in Tolpiddle promising to give the men as much for their 
labour as the other masters in the district." He says there 
were no threats or intimidation, and that he himself, in 
view of the frequent incendiarism, was chosen as part of the 
watch against fires. But he was a Dissenter, and " by some 
in Tolpiddle, it is considered as the sin of witchcraft." 
" Shortly after, we learnt that, in almost every place around 
us, the masters were giving their men money, or money's 
worth, to the amount of ten shillings per week we expected 
to be entitled to as much but no nine shillings must be 
our portion. After some months we were reduced to eight 
shillings per week." The wage or its equivalent was sub- 
sequently reduced to seven shillings and then six shillings was 
suggested. Thereupon " it was resolved to form a friendly 
society among the labourers, having sufficiently learnt that 
it would be vain [to] seek redress either of employers, 
magistrates, or parsons " whom they had consulted 
already. 

They did not know it was illegal to associate for such a 
purpose. On February 21, 1834, warning notices were 
posted by the magistrates. On February 29th the " con- 
spirators " were all arrested, and walked peaceably with 
the constable to Dorchester, seven miles away. They were 
taken to the prison, identified, searched, and their heads 
shorn. Some days later they appeared before the magistrates 
and were committed for trial. The chaplain and "a Mr. 
Young, an attorney," tried to get Loveless to reveal their 
supposed plans. The authorities had the fear (not uncommon 
among authorities) of hidden plots of incredible magnitude. 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 281 

On March 15th they were taken to the County Hall and 
" ushered down some steps into a miserable dungeon," 
where they waited three days, and were then tried. " Our 
masters were inquired of to know if we were not idle, or 
attended public-houses, or some other fault in us ; and much 
as they were opposed to us, they had common honesty 
enough to declare that w r e were good labouring servants, 
and that they never heard of any complaint against us." 
Loveless says the judge was hostile. At any rate, he 
sentenced them all to seven years' transportation, after he 
had adjourned for two days to consider a protest by their 
counsel. 

On April 5th, with irons on his legs, Loveless was moved 
to Portsmouth, where he worked for six weeks or so ; and 
then on May 25th, in irons still, he sailed for Australia, 
with twelve score other convicts. "A berth about five feet 
six inches square was all that was allowed " on a fourteen 
weeks' voyage " for six men to occupy day and night." 

George Loveless was allotted to Tasmania. He " worked 
on the roads with the chain-gang in the day," for a week or 
so, and then on a Government farm. " Our hut was none 
of the best : in fine weather we could lie in bed and view 
the stars, in foul weather feel the wind and rain ; and this 
added greatly to increase those rheumatic pains which were 
first brought on by cold irons round the legs and hard 
lying." The farm work continued till February, 1836, 
when he was released on ticket-of-leave and told to find 
work for himself. A month before he had been allowed to 
write and ask his wife and children to come out to Tasmania, 
at the Government expense : he did so with reluctance, 
for he thought the life too hard and strange for them. He 
got employment after a long search, and then learnt that 
the home agitation against the harsh sentences was taking 
effect. In October, 1836, he was given a free pardon and 
offered a free passage home, but delayed accepting it till 
he heard whether his wife was setting out or not. He arrived 
in London on June 13th, 1837. 



282 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The other five offenders were sent to Sydney and assigned 
to different masters. John Stanfield was sent to a farm near 
his father, 150 miles up-country. A few weeks after he got 
there, he got leave to go and see his parent. " He [the older 
man] was then a dreadful spectacle, covered with sores from 
head to foot, and weak and helpless as a child." It is possible 
that his condition was caused by the custom of flogging 
shepherds and cattle-men who by accident let a beast or 
two of their huge herds go astray. Loveless quotes a bad 
master who got a magistrate's order to give fifty lashes to 
one such man. The culprit was then set to carry logs on 
his injured back, and, being unable to endure it, ran away, 
was caught, and got fifty more lashes. He ran away three 
times more, and received the same penalty each time ; 
again, and was sentenced to a sixth fifty but this time, 
as his back " was in such a dreadful state," on another part 
of the body. 

In 1836 John Stanfield and his father chained together 
were transferred, for some reason not explained to them, 
to Sydney gaol, being treated with the utmost severity and 
coarseness on the way. They were then set to work in a 
gang, where eventually James Loveless and Brine joined 
them. Stanfield petitioned successfully to be transferred 
back to his old master, and all four were so transferred. 
They were pardoned in 1837, and reached Plymouth on March 
17, 1838. " The next day we proceeded through Exeter, 
where we were welcomed by a public meeting, to our 
native village, Tolpiddle, Dorsetshire, arriving in safety 
to the great joy of our relatives and friends." 

The experiences of James Loveless were much the same. 
James Brine fared worse. He had the misfortune to be 
robbed, of all except some old clothes, by bushrangeis, 
as he was on the way to his master, up-country. His master 
asked him where his provided " slops " and bedding were. 
He told him of the robbery. " He swore I was a liar, and 
said he would give me a * d d good flogging ' in the morning. 
* You are one of the Dorsetshire machine-breakers,' said 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 283 

he, ' but you are caught at last.' He gave me nothing to eat 
until the following day." (Brine had had but one meal 
during the three previous days.) And his master gave him 
no clothes nor bedding for six months. "'If you ask me 
for anything before the six months is expired, I will flog 
you as often as I like/ ' This man was a magistrate. 

The sentence and the sufferings were long remembered : 
long enough for the locality to set up, during the Great War 
of 191 4- 1918, a monument to the sufferers. It was unveiled 
by one of His Majesty's Ministers, a member of the War 
Cabinet, who, like those he commemorated, was a labourer 
and a Trade Unionist. 

Their toil, and the toil of generations of their fathers, 
made the England we see now. They mixed their labour 
with that land ; but little of the goodly heritage is yet 
theirs. See what they and others have made of Marshwood 
Vale. Start at Beaminster. 

The greater part of Beaminster was burnt down in 1781. 
Hence the neat beauty of the little town now. It is just a 
satisfactory large village, except for one thing in it the 
church, a dominant building fit for a town. The church by 
some accident escaped the Puritan iconoclast, and the very 
beautiful tower bears a cluster of images all up its surface, 
gracious saints under canopies, in golden stone. It is the 
most lovely tower in Dorset. 

From its bells issue every three hours hymn tunes, as 
elsewhere in the county. Within, it is spacious and decent. 
It contains the monument of an Oglander of Parnham in 
the theatrical style : that very old family succeeded, in 
possession of the noble manor-house and its lands, the still 
older family of Strode. Parnham House, half a mile away, 
is a glory of Dorset. 

The church also contains a pleasant punning epitaph, 
hidden behind the organ : It is of 1653 : 

' 'Tis not because the woman's virtue dies, 
That the brass tells us here Ann Hillary lies ; 
Her name's long lov'd she is in this commended, 
The poor cry out, their Hillary term is ended." 



284 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

There is a footpath to Netherbury which brings you out 
near its hardly less admirable church. Netherbury itself 
might be an emblem of much of Dorset's share in English 
history. Five miles away Bridport has clung to the great 
world by its ropes. Beaminster, with the church and its 
mart of incomparable cheeses, is as it were a secret metro- 
polis. These two places are also joined by a road, along 
which a motor-bus service and motor-mail service of terrify- 
ing violence ply. But Netherbury is not upon that road. 
Netherbury is not really upon any road, though since a 
village, to exist, must be capable of being reached, some 
roads run to it. If you come by any way but the Beaminster 
footpath you find Netherbury by means of a map. You do 
not find it by direct vision or distant prospect. You turn 
down an unsuggestive lane with high banks west of the 
Bridport-Beaminster road : and in a quarter of a mile you 
are in the midst of a village compact, cheerful, reasonably 
active, and completely hidden from the traffic of the world. 

Netherbury for centuries has had two industries : the 
making of sails and nets, and the growing of cider apples. 
Upon these homely slighted trades the village has main- 
tained its peaceful existence. Once it was an abode of grer t 
folk : Beaminster formed part of Netherbury parish. 
High families lived there. It was " amoena sedes Gollo- 
pensis," as a memorial in Dorchester Parish Church calls the 
mansion of Strode, a pleasant residence, Nicholas Wadham, 
founder of the Oxford college, dwelt at Pomice, near by, 
now a farm. In the church are buried Mores of Melplash, 
ancestors of Sir Thomas. But now Netherbury is but a 
handful of yellow cottages, with one or two displeasing 
patches of brick, and a number of very fine box hedges, 
said to have been planted to stay infection of plague from 
house to house, when the village was ravaged by the scourge 
in 1666-8. 

All the paths and roads converge upon the beautiful 
church (a very competent guide to which could once be 
purchased at the post office just below). It stands on the 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 285 

highest part of Netherbury's little hill, a golden pinnacle, 
gracious and lovely alike when it glows in sunlight and when 
its serene autumn colour shines through rain. Not Bea- 
minster Church nor Sherborne Abbey itself is more finely 
weathered to unite in the yellow stone both life and venerable 
age. The tower is of well-proportioned Perpendicular work. 
Inside are graceful slender pillars, of early English design, 
an inlaid pulpit, two squints, four niches void of statues, 
a stoop, and a " crusader's " tomb of alabaster almost 
translucent in its purity. On it lies the mutilated figure of a 
knight. He wears armour of about the time of Henry V 
or Henry VI, and a collar of SS : once at his feet couched a 
dog or a lion, now headless. Above the canopy of the tomb 
is his helmet. Savages have carved their initials upon him : 
not only in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Of 
himself not so much as an initial is accurately known. He 
is said to be one of the Mores, whose crest is on the tomb. 
The guide to the church records a pretty local tradition that 
the knight slew an adversary in a duel, and that immediately 
a dove settled on his helmet, showing the justice and 
innocence of his quarrel : but the historian says that the 
bird is a moor-cock, the More totem. 

I should like to think that this calm, strong marble face, 
so certain, in its quietness, of the Resurrection of the Dead, 
was that of a later knight buried a few yards away in the 
populous churchyard, with his wife beside him ; their 
Latin record tells that " Thomas Gollop of Strode, knight, 
and Martha his wife, bowed by the weariness of mortality, 
laid down here together, in the sure hope of resurrection, 
all that was mortal of them." They had gone through the 
Commonwealth, had twelve sons (one of whom lived in eight 
reigns), and died in 1664, just before the great plague of 
London and Netherbury. 

If in days when even remote villages have fallen upon a 
period of change not necessarily change for the worse 
one wished to recapture those philosophic amenities which 
render Gray's Elegy still the most English of poems, I 



286 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

think the slope of Netherbury churchyard would be a perfect 
site for the philosopher's reflections. Wars and pestilence 
have come upon the men who once found here the centre of 
their world. Years have eaten the golden stone that faith 
and the love of beauty moulded in such seemly fashion : 
men have broken man's handiwork. No one can tell into 
what fantastic lands the alabaster knight fared, what 
temper in action won him his honourable collar : no one can 
tell what impulses of wayward friendship or mean pride 
cut letters upon his unknown form : no one can say whose 
thought in stone the church is : no one can tell us any more 
of Gollop of Strode than that, if epitaphs do not lie, he loved 
his wife. The box and yew live on : silent. But they are 
not more continuous than the unrecorded life of men in a 
village. The reckoning bideth. 

A hundred yards from the church, one autumn day, I 
came into one reality of that almost dumb life. An old man, 
digging potatoes in an allotment (last remnant of merry 
socialist England) greeted me. It had been a wet summer, 
followed by a fine autumn, so late that the harvests had been 
gathered perforce before the sun reappeared. " We ought 
to ha' waited," said the old man. " We hadn't patience. 
The Lord A'mighty promised seedtime 'n' harvest so long 
as the world do stand, and it come ; but not 'zackly so as to 
please we sometimes." 

Westwards from Netherbury there is a way to the great 
hills of this region which might have baffled even the lamented 
Mr. Walker Miles (whose work on field-paths all over England 
deserves an eternal monument, for the open confusion of 
wire-pulling landlords, builders, motorists, wealthy hermits, 
embattled Americans, and every other legless monster). 
Perhaps, as it is so utterly delightful a walk and so hard to 
follow exactly, I had better hypostatize the true traveller 
in the manner of Mr. Hope Moncrieff (that universal Black's 
Guide) and name him P (Passenger ? Pedestrian ? Pro- 
letarian ?). It seems a suitable artifice for this period. 

The one-inch ordnance map shows P. how to leave 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 287 

Nobherbury. The footpath goes past the narrow slip of 
allotments and downhill to a stream. Across the stream, 
P. proceeds (P. always proceeds he does not walk) through 
a wood, taking the right-hand path the other side of the 
footbridge, not the left (which is not on the map but is very 
insistent in fact). Beyond the wood, the path, like so many 
on the Dorset map, vanishes on a hill-side. Here P.'s nose, 
if of the usual shape, points straight ahead, not along 
corrugations which look like paths but are not. Let P. 
follow his nose and ascend the hill at its steepest : he will 
see at the top a gate, and thereafter a fenced or hedged 
track the map's dotted " third class unmetalled road." 
Follow it. 

P. has now come to a pathway of a kind peculiar to the 
edges of Marshwood Vale, and beyond description lovable. 
It is a little like the broad, disused, grass-grown roads of 
Kent : but its hedges are ten or more feet thick. It is, 
later, a little like the smugglers' ways of Sussex : but it is 
much smoother, and, in a sense, more civilized. At first it 
is open, with grass under foot : a track seven or eight feet 
across. On either side grow foxgloves and meadowsweet, 
and in due season periwinkle (its flowers blue stars, visible 
satellites, one cannot doubt, of a fabulous blue moon not to 
be seen by mortal eyes). Blackberries of prodigious size and 
unspeakable lusciousness abound. Upon the majority of 
blossoms, at the proper time of year, peacock butterflies 
of the largest possible dimensions, broader and more 
lustrous than even the Cornish giants of that tribe, are to be 
observed : so fat and lethargic are they that an enthusiastic 
naturalist can catch, mutilate, or kill them with the naked 
hand. Other flowers, shrubs, and insects occur in profusion. 

This is the voice of prejudice. The natural objects are 
those to be found in other parts of England. But I love 
these better than those, as Ollendorff would say. And when 
this grassy lane becomes a road-like track (not at all easy 
to walk upon in a wet winter, but admirable for about 
eight normal months in the year), it takes a character of 



288 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

its own, for it sinks down between banks, and when the 
summer has advanced the brambles meet overhead. The 
sky is obscured : long, bleached, thornless bramble streamers 
hang down from the leafy roof ; the walk becomes a green 
thought in a green shade. You may reflect upon the action 
of light in bleaching the prickly shrubs, or upon the careless- 
ness of evolution in leaving them thornless where chance 
cows might chew them, or upon the condition of soil which 
produces such growths : or you may merely be entirely 
contented by the silence and earthy fragrance of this long 
green tunnel. If you descend upon Whitchurch Canoni- 
corum, the capital of the Vale, from almost any point in the 
hills around, you will find many such delicious alleys. 

At present one does not descend. Return to P., who has 
been left sniffing at those splendid flowers, or looking at a 
map, or catching butterflies, for some time past. P. will 
be in doubt when presently, by two trees high up, the path 
divides. Nature and the map may suggest to him a short 
cut if he takes the right-hand path. Not so. Let him shut 
his right eye and go straight on. About a hundred yards 
later, the information laid by H.M.'s Ordnance Survey will 
prove true. P. must turn to the right : an oak tree and a 
gully are signs : then over a stile and down into Stoke Abbot. 
Here P. sees a church, and for the moment considering it 
merely as a landmark, passes it on two sides. It is on the 
right ; when the path reaches a road, P. turns to the right 
and enters the churchyard and (with luck) the church. 
Here P. may look upon the memorial to Dr. Crowe. The 
church is not particularly interesting, but it is of a respect- 
able antiquity : much of it is Early English, and the font 
is Norman. 

Anyone with a sense of historical decency would go from 
here to Broadwindsor, along a pretty byroad, and look at 
Thomas Fuller's pulpit in the (usually locked) church, 
and meditate on Charles II and the other worthies already 
mentioned : especially as Hutchins deals with Crowe under 
Broadwindsor as well as Stoke. But just at this stage 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 289 

I do not feel the need of second-rate authors or fugitive 
kings, and I prefer to go straight to Crowe's subject 
Lewsdon Hill. Hutchins says that it is the highest hill in 
Dorset, being 960 feet above sea-level. I am afraid H.M. 
Ordnance Survey do not agree : 894 feet is all they give it, 
and to Pilsdon Pen they allot 907, and to Bulbarrow 905. 
Sfcill, it is a considerable acclivity, to use the terms of th- 
period. And it is singularly beautiful, for its top is crowned 
with trees and bracken not crowned only, but well clad. 
Dr. Crowe chose a good ground for his musings. 

The path from Stoke over Lewsdon is easily found : 
it is another " third class unmetalled unfenced road " : 
that is to say, it is an ordinary green Down track along 
which a farm cart may pass once or twice a year. 

Likewise the track to the main road is easy. The road 
here is good ; a fair high-hedged causeway. (Once a horse 
made a face at me here over a ten-foot high hedge : he did : 
a beastly ugly face, sardonic, in the derivative sense of that 
word. I do not know why ha disliked and derided me : 
these Houyhnhnms ) 

But you have got to be careful about THE highest hill 
in Dorset, Pilsdon Pen. If you go too far along the road, you 
will find certain notice-boards, directing you to go to a 
manor and ask leave to view a hill that was inhabited before 
manors were ever dreamed of. And then you will climb it 
from the west. But if ... well, there is a gate on the east- 
ward side of the hill. 

It is a great and fine hill. I rank it in Dorset next after 
Pentridge and equal with Creech Barrow; Eggardon and 
Bulbarrow being first of all. Even people who know much of 
Southern England do not realize the spaciousness of these 
neglected hills, and are often not aware of the superb vision 
of domestic England which they afford. From Pilsdon 
you look back on hills I have enumerated more than once 
already : you see the whole wonderful curve of Marshwood 
Vale shaggy Lewsdon, Lambert's Castle, Coney's CastLi, 
Golden Cap, Thorncombe Beacon (the names alone ought to 

u 



290 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

defeat other counties) : you behold the Axe Valley spread 
out, and all that pageant which I have described as seen a 
little more distantly from Eggardon. 

P. should go down from Pilsdon Pen towards Birdsmoor 
Gate on the main road. He can turn off, if he please, just 
below the great hill, and go south, past the old manor-house 
at Pilsdon itself : but personally I like the longer route, for 
it bears you round the high rim of the singular vale of Marsh- 
wood a saucer with its seaward edge adorably chipped. 
P. should turn off at the byroad to Bettiscombe (unless he 
likes to look at the extraordinary modern buildings in 
speckled brick at Marshwood), and follow that byroad to 
Whitchurch. 

At Bettiscombe is the Screaming Skull. (The only better 
title that I know for a really promising novel is The Man 
with Three Thumbs : and that, unhappily, has been 
wasted on a short story). The Bettiscombe Skull screams, 
and disaster overtakes the family, if you try to remove it. 
Quite jolly. Its history has been pursued by his Honour 
Judge Udal, of Antigua and Dorset, who in his West Indian 
dominion came by chance upon an estate known as Pinney's. 
Happily, possessing local knowledge of a penetrating kind, 
he hit on the solution of a mystery about which antiquarians 
would ordinarily have had to fill volumes of magazines. Mr. 
Udal traced the West Indian estate to a Pinney who was 
condemned to death, reprieved, sentenced to transportation, 
and apparently bought off, after Monmouth's rebellion. It 
seems that this Azariah Pinney, nevertheless, went to the 
West Indies : and his descendants returned in the eighteenth 
century to the ancestral district, bringing with them a 
negro servant, after the fashion of the times in which 
Samuel Johnson would serve his cat Hodge with oysters 
to prevent indignity to his black, Francis Barber. It is the 
anonymous black's skull, preserved by some whim, which 
screams. 

P. can go all the way to Whitchurch Canonicorum from 
Bettiscombe by what is called a road (and indeed horresco 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 291 

iferens I have been along it in a car). There is also, if you 
can hit it I did it only by the graciousness of a country 
woman who carried her baby a quarter of a mile and left 
her house desolate to guide me a path from below Duckpool 
across country : a mighty pleasant and wet path. This deep 
Vale country is no place for walkers, except in August 
or a dry September : you get either interminable curly 
lanes, or quaggy footpaths. 

In due course P. arrives at Whitchurch of the Monks ; 
an ugly village with a venerable church. Here lies St. Wite 
or St. Candida, a saint of whom I have spoken : here are 
Norman arches ; here are a Grail and something like the 
Cretan Idbrys carved on stones embedded in the fine Per- 
pendicular tower. This, like Powerstock and Bere Regis 
and Piddletown churches, is a building where intention has 
survived. 

From Whitchurch a byroad takes P. to a little before 
Ryall, where a maddening confusion of roads awaits him. 
The only direction to give is that he should go almost due 
east, along a contour, so to speak it is fairly easily recognized 
when he gets there ; it does not look promising, but it is 
right. By doing so he misses returning into the depths of the 
Vale, and also getting on to the main Bridport-Lyme road, 
and also going into a blind alley. Har Down (unaccountably 
called Sharedon and other vile names in eighteenth-century 
road-books) should be left dead due south, after a slight 
curve towards the south-east. 

This track crosses the River Winniford, about which I 
will say no more than that it makes the road wet for an 
intolerable distance. Thereafter North Chideock is passed 
unobserved, and another green tunnel is entered.* This 
leads eventually to the fair village of Symondsbury, where 
are an ancient manor, an ancient inn, and a church which, 
until a year or two ago, would have been ancient if the 

* See one -inch Ordnance Map. I will not guarantee that the little 
lanes will be roofed over in any one year. Farmers, for obvious reasons, 
have a habit of clearing lanes and ditches and hedges and copses from time 
to time. 



292 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

eighteenth (or early nineteenth) century had tolerated such 
a Gothic survival. 

The church is now being restored : I could almost wish 
it were not, for later centuries will certainly like to possess 
some monument of what 1818 thought of earlier ages, as 
well as of what 1922 thought of 1818. 

What 1818 thought of its ancestors, the church as it was 
a few years ago showed. The period was still Augustan, 
and the nation so far as Symondsbury is concerned 
still knew its own mind. It may have been a narrow mind, 
for all that it prided itself upon its broad-bottomed wisdom : 
but it was a mind fully made-up and composed. When, 
therefore, it judged the " Gothick " of Symondsbury church, 
it found it bad : of course it may also have found it half- 
ruined, and have very rightly determined to arrest the 
decay ; but I doubt it. 

The year 1818 covered the Gothic up : covered up the 
inside utterly and entirely, save where the immense and 
goodly Perpendicular shafts rose into the golden tower. 
High pews, with elegant wooden candlesticks still in use 
before the new restoration were so put in as to hide the 
bases of those columns. Much of the waggon roof was 
whitewashed and plastered. Two fine new galleries were 
inserted, one in the north transept, one all across the west 
end of the main aisle, cutting in half the light of an enormous 
window. To give entrance to this western gallery which 
from the chancel steps, with a draped red window curtain 
in the big window and a neat projecting bay in the middle of 
the front row of seats, looked exactly like an enormous 
four -post bed two stone staircases were erected outside 
the church. On the south a door was cut high up in the wall. 
On the north a window was bisected, and a wooden door 
substituted for half the Perpendicular arch. Another 
outside staircase was made for the northern gallery. 

Below the gallery, at the extreme back of the church, 
were set unsmoothed, low, uncomfortable seats, doubtless 
for the poor and for children, with a raised seat in the middle 



THE SEQUESTERED VALE 293 

for a beadle. Facing him stood that perfect emblem of 
Augustan pomp, a wooden font of a simple pseudo-Roman 
design, the wood painted to look like marble. 

The gallery in the north transept was adorned at one side 
with a golden urn breathing stiff golden flowers. Over a 
high, graceful pulpit sat a seemly golden dove. The tables 
of the Law, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, were blazoned 
on aggressively decent blue screens behind the holy table, 
around which, north and south, as well as west, ran a firm 
balustraded altar rail, so that communicants might draw 
near in a gentle domesticity. 

All the stonework of the interior, except the central 
columns, was plastered over : and the plaster was given a 
pattern of lines to bear the semblance of joined and mortared 
stones. No transformation could have been more purposeful 
and complete, no breach with, or disregard of, the past and 
its continuity more determined. 

A generation later two documents were added ; footnotes, 
as it were, confirming the taste of the restorers. One is the 
glass in the south transept window a representation of 
the Evangelists which in design and colour can only be 
described as amazing. I have never seen, and wish never to 
see, anything like it. The other is an epitaph to a local 
worthy. His executors set it up. They were quite sure of 
his virtues. We might perhaps be surer of them to-day 
if they were a little less strenuously proclaimed. The 
panegyrists said that " he could not have been excelled 
in firmness of attachment to the existing institutions 
of his country both in Church and State." (Here follows 
a list of less exciting qualities.) " In his character were 
united all the Christian Graces, with all the Sterling Virtues 
of True Patriotism" He paid his labourers two shillings a 
day in 1812. 

From Symondsbury P. makes his way east by a pleasant 
field-path entering the Bridport road just by the ironworks : 
than which nothing less like an ironworks has ever existed ; 
a graceful Georgian house with its own pond and garden 



294 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

visible from the road, its own decent ironwork, of the two 
patterns which adorn adorn is the right word half the 
good houses for miles round : no factory chimney, no coal, 
no dirt. . . . The eighteenth century here at least coped 
well with one ugliness of the industrial era. 

And thus we come into Bridport again by way of Ailing- 
ton, where an unrestored church of almost the Symondsbury 
restoration period may be observed : formal, sedate, as 
certain of its convictions as of the even growth of its yew 
trees. 

It is that certainty which contrasts so pitifully with the 
dim fumblings of the labourers towards freedom. They 
should have been content to make the earth beautiful and 
fruitful by their toil ; leaving it to the church builders and 
restorers to name their reward in this world or the next. 
They should have known their place. . . . 



XIV 

** May our Examples influence All the rest of our Country to an imitation 
of the like Charity ! That if it be the Will of God, we may again 
Enjoy the Blessings of peace, and see our Jerusalem once more 
Established as a City t hat is at Unity within itself. 

" Now the God of Patience and Consolation, grant you to be likeminded 
One towards Another, according to Christ Jesus." 

WILLIAM WAKE, afterwards Archbishop of Canter- 
bury. A Sermon Preach' d at the Reviving of the 
Dorsetshire Feast, 1690. 

" In the black night, along the mud -deep roads, 

Amid the threatening boughs and ghostly streams, 

Hark ! Sounds that gird the darknesses like goads, 
Murmurs and rumours and reverberant dreams, 

Trampling, breaths, movements, and a little light 

The Marching of the Army of the Night ! " 

FRANCIS ADAMS, 

Songs of the Army of the Night. 



XIV 
HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 




DORSET, as a rule, has not been backward in honour- 
ing her prophets in their own lifetime. Pride in 
local custom and tradition seems there to be both 
natural and evenly diffused. In 1859 William Barnes, a 
none too wealthy schoolmaster, was encouraged to give 
readings of his " dialect " poems to those who used the 
alleged dialect, in their very own towns and villages. It 
might have been imagined that his best audience would be 
polite gentry and students of folk-lore (a word he himself 
invented), and that his humbler hearers would suspect 
they were being exploited or turned into sentiment for 
foreign consumption. But in the result there was no high- 
brow atmosphere. The halls were packed with the people 
described in the poems, and the audiences were, by every 
account, enthusiastic. 

Hardy has lamented the smothering of that good English 

297 



298 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

speech by the commonplace language of the State schools. 
I certainly have met one striking instance of that crime. 
I was being kindly shown over a certain fine place in the 
county, outside the usual hours, by an under -bailiff : I 
conjecture a peasant's son who had taken the advantage 
of education. He spoke with the average middle-class 
correctness and no local accent. He was a decent man, well 
dressed in tweed, with a natural civility. We came into the 
gardens of the house, and heard a thousand birds singing, 
for it was spring. We both stopped to listen ; the sound was 
an enchantment after the empty silences of the great mansion. 
After a moment I said to him : " Have you ever heard that 
little small song they whisper to one another in then: nests 
before dawn, before they get up ? " (It is the most excellent 
noise the human ear can receive : a delicate intimacy of 
tiny sound from the waking birds, the half-awake birds, 
in their curiously wrought homes more subtle and poignant 
than all the beauty of their full voice. They utter it at no 
other time.) " Yes," he answered, his face lighting up, 
" I used to hear that at home : they had nests in our thatch." 
Then his speech suddenly took on the beautiful vernacular 
accent, which I cannot reproduce in print. He became the 
peasant, the real Dorset man, again. " But they don't 
sing so finely as when they've washed and dressed theirsen, 
and that's rathe (early) in mornen now. Ah, they was all 
of a charm at break of day." Concentus avium. ... He 
recollected himself and came back from the dawn to the 
daylight rather guiltily: "I. mean they were singing 
wonderfully." 

But the local speech has not died out by any means, as 
you can discover in any bar -parlour in a small village of 
an evening. I once heard a perfect example of its strictly 
correct use. I was in an inn near Badbury Rings, eating a 
noble cheese for lunch (on its own runabout table of rough- 
hewn wood), and drinking home-brewed cider, along with 
five or six labourers. They were arguing down one of their 
number, who seemed to be a sort of Joshua in his views 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 299 

about the sun ; he wanted it in one particular place. He 
said it rose there, pointing : he could see it out of such and 
such windows. The discussion was long and curly, but the 
unanimous conclusion was simple : " You med (might) zee 
zun rise o'er Barbury, but not drough thic window." Apart 
from pronunciation, the point is " thic." It does not 
mean " this," as novelists who deal in local colour are apt 
to think. The men were talking of a number of windows 
" Thic " is a collective adjective, and means " of this kind " 
windows, magic casements, opening in one particular 

direction. "Thic novelist" (like Mr. X ), "thic 

statesman " (like the Rt. Hon. Y ) we want the word 

back in English. Was fur ein ? . . . 

The decay of this fine vernacular, as I have said, is not yet 
far advanced. Even the middle-classes in the little towns 
often revert to it in intimate conversation. The beauty 
of it, to me, is its clean simplicity : it is at once rich and plain. 
In the mouth of a good tale-teller the Dorset intonation 
makes it a perfect vehicle of direct romance. " And with 
tha-a-at, he ups and he gies 'un a clout ower his head, 
so " : that is how stories should be told, so that you go off, 
as you listen, into a land where things may not always be 
what they seem, but where words mean what they mean, 
and nothing else. It is a speech entirely English and 
entirely intelligible. It is as easy and beautiful as Chaucer's. 
Read Chaucer out loud with attention to the rhythm, and 
you can bid the philologers and glossarists go hang. Hear 
the Dorset " dialect " spoken, and as soon as you have got 
used to the inevitable change of tonic accent, it is clearer 
and better and robuster English than even the Cockney 
speaks. 

Mr. Hardy need not despair of its survival. He himself 
has done enough to preserve its rhythm in books so long as 
books are read. And fortunately he also is not without 
honour honour outside reading circles and dramatic and 
literary societies and the more exalted Press. That very 
under-bailiff, when I told him I had walked from Stinsford 



300 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

that day, said, " You know that's Mellstock in Mr. Hardy's 
book ? " I said, " Yes. Do you know Under the Green- 
wood Tree? "Yes," he answered, rather shyly; "I've 
read all his books. I read all I can. I know some of 
the people in Under the Greenwood Tree." And again, near 
Bere Regis. A boy in a cart gave me a lift (oh, legless 
motorists, when did you ever offer that unasked ? Not once 
within my knowledge) : his mother was with him. Presently 
after other conversation, she said, " I suppose you've read 
Mr. Hardy's Tess ? " " Yes," I answered, " it was at 
Bere she sheltered, wasn't it ? " " Yes," she replied : 
" we know a lot of people in that book." 

But it was really with an honour paid to a Dorset man 
outside his county and outside his life that I meant to begin 
this chapter on the Victorian aspect of the county. If I 
deal with certain personalities rather more than with social 
history at this point, it is because they are both a part and 
a vehicle of that history. Alfred Stevens certainly was. 

I was present at a curiously impressive ceremony at the 
Tate Gallery in 1911. A number of elderly gentlemen in 
red robes were gathered to meet the doyen of French 
engravers, Legros, Sir William Richmond, the Keeper of the 
National Gallery, and many distinguished men of art and 
letters. They had all assembled to do honour to a 
Blandford house-decorator's son, who fought with wild 
beasts at the Office of Works, and was the greatest English 
artist of his day, born at Blandford in 1817 ; and there 
stood the Blandford Corporation waiting to hear their 
dimly known fellow-citizen praised. 

It was through the foresight and generosity of the vicar 
of Blandford St. Mary's, Mr. Best, that Stevens first got 
his chance. This wise man sent him at his own expense to 
Italy to study, and there, probably, Stevens gained that 
conception of the unity of all art which dominated his life. 
He returned to Blandford in 1842, but not for long. He 
became a master at the school which developed later into 
the Royal College, and began forthwith to put into practice 




PORTRAIT OF A CLERGYMAN 

BELIEVED TO BE OF T11K KEY. THK HON. SAMUEL BEST 

BY ALFRED STEVENS 
rion of the Trustees of the Tale Gallery 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 301 

his saying, " I know but one art." He designed stoves for 
a Sheffield firm, plates for Mintons, fine houses for the 
beautiful-and-good, lions for the British Museum, and 
finally the great Duke's monument for St. Paul's Cathedral, 
into which the Dean (Milman) was loth to allow even a 
sculptured horse to enter. 

Sir William Armstrong's charming monograph on Stevens 
tells with much sympathy the story of his struggle with 
Mr. Ayrton (the First Commissioner of Works), who was 
capable of suggesting to an artist that if he did not complete 
his tale of bricks as per esteemed order, someone else would 
be set to round off the half -finished job. The essay brings 
out also the quality in Stevens which to me seems the 
essential part of his birthright his extreme simplicity of 
soul. He had always a sincere purpose clear in his own mind, 
not necessarily believed in by others. And he saw and 
laboured for nothing else except to be kind to puppies 
and poor people : he liked to have a puppy in his pocket, 
and was always being defrauded by beggars. 

So likewise did William Barnes walk in simplicity through 
the wilderness of this world. Hardy, in a fine appreciation 
published when Barnes died in 1886, writes of "an aged 
clergyman, quaintly attired in caped cloak, knee-breeches, 
and buckled shoes, with a leather satchel slung over his 
shoulders, and a stout staff in his hand. He seemed usually 
to prefer the middle of the street to the pavement, and to be 
thinking of matters which had nothing to do with the scene 
before him." 

A statue of him in that cloak now stands outside the parish 
church at Dorchester, by whose clock he was wont to set hL$ 
watch. His association with Dorset was chiefly with the 
county town, except for his youth in Blackmore Vale. 
He kept a memorable school afc Dorchester, and retired at 
length to the vicarage of Winterborne Came, three miles 
south. Dorchester to-day, indeed, in its external form, owes 
much to him. He was one of the little band of its citizens 
who prevented the railway companies from destroying 



302 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

Maumbury Rings and Poundbury Camp. His zeal for the 
study of continuity with the past made him an original 
member of the Dorset Field Club, whose local antiquarian 
collections and investigations might be a model to all 
English counties. 

His very perfect genre poetry apart, he is well known, 
perhaps even notorious, as an extreme enthusiast for Anglo- 
Saxon, and as a widely read but possibly too dogmatic 
philologist. He would have reduced the English speech of 
to-day almost to something like a system of monosyllables, 
by killing or banning Latinisms wherever a Saxon word 
existed or could be exhumed (" folk-wain " for " omnibus," 
for instance and perhaps archaism is better than corrupted 
jargon in that case). What the reformed tongue should be 
at its best may be learnt from a few sentences of his which 
hold also his own ideal of life : "It often happens that so 
many of the earlier years of the worker for the minds of men 
are so ill paid that he dies almost breadless before he attains 
to well-paid fame ; or else, as a homely saying speaks, he 
cannot win bread till he has no teeth left to eat it. Yet it 
may be true that a work of fine art for the mind of man 
may not be always so truly rated by labour or transference 
as work for bodily life-gear. A great man's work is that of 
his own soul's thought, his own feeling, his own hand, his 
own skill, and no other man can give its like."* 

The local sentiment or parade of it which might make 
unsympathetic persons suspect a fostered cult of Barnes 
was in fact a very genuine thing. He was loved. " No one 
was ever afraid of Mr. Barnes," said a child in his parish, 
not contemptuously. Perhaps she had experience of that 
cassock-coat pocket which besides prayer books or a 
"pocket font or communion service" would also hold 
dolls and sweets. After all, what is sentiment ? In the 
bad sense, it is hypertrophy of the lacrymal ducts by means 
of publicity campaigns which appeal to the most facile 
emotions : as when you raise your hat at the word " Mother." 

* Views on Labour and Gold, 1859. 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 303 

The answer to this is the ever -regretted Pelissier. In the 
good sense, it is an appeal to a simple and honourable 
emotion against reason, perhaps, but quite often on the 
side of reason, for human beings are not all reasonable. 
Barnes had the gift of that appeal, and he could clothe it in 
the best of all coats of many colours a rich living dialect. 

Sentiment I suppose Wordsworth's " Poor Susan " is 
as near the danger-line of sentimentality as most poems. 
Yet it happens to be true, and William Barnes proves it. 
He won for himself, in his lifetime, a tribute of which few 
writers could not be envious, ungrudgingly. His daughter 
records that one day in 1869 he received a letter " written 
in an uneducated round hand." The writer had had to 
dust some books. " Amongst them was your Poems in the 
Dorset Dialect. Sir, I shook hands with you in my heart, 
and I laughed and cried by turns. . . . Sometimes I sit 
down in the gloom of an underground London kitchen and 
shut my eyes, and try to fancy I am on Beaminster Down, 
where I have spent many a happy hour years ago. . . . May 
God bless you and all yours, is the true wish of an Old 
Domestic Servant, who loves the very name of Dorsetshire." 

The urban temper of mind is apt to pride itself on its 
sense of the spirit of place ; I have, no doubt, given numerous 
examples of this form of self-conceit. What it too often 
fails to understand is the real love of place which is the life 
of the spirit, which has made it in the past, which will keep 
it alive when all the essayists of all the world are dead. 
A little aside in the Dorchester labourers' evidence 
" They said we were as brothers " : the bitter memories 
of the uprooting of Milton village : the Old Domestic 
Servant's reverie of Beaminster Down they are deeper 
things than sentiment or intellectual ecstasy. How deep in 
Dorset, it has taken Hardy to show us. It seems to me that 
in the dim courage of the labourers, in the simplicity of 
Stevens and Barnes, in the austere fire and profoundly 
human sense of the universe in Hardy, in the acceptance 
by the humble of the work of their own great ones, there is 



304 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

something central and permanent ; some kinship of spirit, 
linked, not distantly, to a fellowship with the very earth 
itself. Dorset men love Dorset. Here is a little of the peace 
I seek, a little continuity and permanence. 

That spirit, I think, appears also in another well-known 
Dorset man of the nineteenth century. There moved to 
and fro about the county the handsome figure of General 
Pitt-Rivers ; moved a little irritably, at times, perhaps, 
for I am told he had the honourable affliction of the gout. 
I have already spoken of his wonderful excavations. He 
made munificent gifts to collections elsewhere, but he 
meant his work to carry its highest value locally. Accord- 
ingly he built a well-planned museum at Farnham, near 
the scene of his labours ten miles from anywhere and 
put most of his local finds in it, with elaborate models of 
the sites and cuttings and a collection of objects of peasant 
life from other countries, for purposes of comparison. It 
was a great idea, to let a few villages look on a pageant of 
the life of man, and study it closely, and feel it part of them- 
selves. Pitt-Rivers also built arbours in his grounds at 
Larmer Tree, close by, and encouraged excursions, and had 
a band at intervals, and wrote a vigorous guide to the place. 
He kept in his park reindeer, llamas (which bred), Indian 
cattle, yaks, and other exotic beasts and birds : all part of 
the same universal idea, if a little remote from it. 

His fine books on the excavations are unfortunately 
accessible only in great libraries. They were privately 
printed, at great cost. Indeed, the expense of these under- 
takings was a serious burden on the family estates, which in 
Dorset covered not only the Chase, but land at Bridport 
Harbour and Cerne Abbas. 

Over all these writings is the impression of a robust, 
self-willed, upright personality : I should have said, if 
Pitt-Rivers had not been a Conservative in politics, of 
what Stevenson called a Squirradical. Hear his rebuke 
to his fellow-landlords : * " The expense of conducting 

* Excavation? in Crariborne Chase. Vol. II, 1888. 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 305 

explorations upon this system is considerable, but the wealth 
available in the county for the purpose is still ample, if only 
it could be turned into this channel. The number of county 
gentlemen of means, who are at a loss for intelligent occu- 
pation beyond hunting and shooting, must be considerable, 
and now that a paternal Government has made a present 
of their game to their tenants, and bids fair to deprive them 
of the part that some have hitherto taken, most advantage- 
ously to the public, in the management of local affairs, it 
may not perhaps be one of the least useful results of these 
volumes "... if the squires turn archaeologists ! 

These few figures,* now outstanding, seem much more 
enduring, much more real, than those of the popular pro- 
tagonists in the chief controversies of the time. Yet great 
and little things were going on round their lonely heads. 
It was the era of the Oxford movement, and the county 
trembled. 

Walter Kerr Hamilton, Bishop of Salisbury from 1854 to 
his death in 1869, was an unafraid High Churchman in days 
before the nobility and gentry in general had recovered 
from Tract No. 90. (The opposite school of thought has 
always been strong in Dorset, especially in the eastern 
part of the county. I have heard of a celebrated Evangelical 
donkey . . .) Hamilton, in his episcopal charge of 1867, 
accepted the doctrines of the Real Presence and of priestly 
absolution. The matter was mentioned in the House of 
Lords. It was also mentioned at great length at a County 
Meeting held at Dorchester that year. " This meeting," 
the report of it says, " was specially important as having 
been convened and addressed by laymen only." The 
philanthropic Lord Shaftesbury was in the chair ("in his 

* I may seem to speak of Mr. Hardy, among them, as if he were in the 
past ; but when I mention him I am really thinking of the living people 
and the vital ideas in his books, the first of which appeared in 1871 : he 
wrote, in his novels, as a rule, of that or an earlier period. His heresies of 
the nineteenth century have become our gospel : a faith, however, 
not yet mummified by full Establishment. 

In this epoch also, in 1836, was born at Wareham (and there presented 
to the Princess, afterwards Queen, Victoria) the only begetter of the 
Daniel Press. 



306 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

private capacity "), and was supported by the High Sheriff- 
elect, several M.P.'s, Lord Portman, Mr. Wingfield Digby, 
the Mayor of Dorchester, and many representatives of well- 
known county families. They protested vigorously. " When 
I have assisted at one of these [ritualistic] exhibitions," 
said the chairman, " I declare that I thought I was at 
Fordington Field, presiding at a review, rather than in an 
act of religion in a church." (I do not know whether to 
admire his lordship's conception of military science or of 
religion the more ; and this was ten years after the Crimean 
war.) It was admitted that Dorset itself was not seriously 
tainted. " There are here," said Lord Portman, " very 
few opportunities of showing off what I would call those 
nonsensical proceedings in the Church. (Loud applause.)" 
" The Church," cried the High Sheriff-elect, " if she protested 
against anything, did protest against the Bodily Presence 
of our Saviour in the Lord's Supper." (As who should say, 
" Do go away, dear Lord.") Eight hundred years before, the 
great abbot of Cerne, ^Elfric, had put it differently and in 
better English : " Nothing is to be unde stood bodily, 
but all is to be understood spiritually. . . . Soothly it is 
Christ's body and blood, not bodily, but spiritually. Ye 
are not to ask how it is done, but to hold to your belief that 
it is so done." 

" Thus, my lord, there are many panics in mankind 
besides merely that of fear. And thus is religion also panic." 
It was another Lord Shaftesbury who said that, the third 
Earl, the ingenious author of the Characteristics, with 
whom, writing quietly in his homes in Dorset and Chelsea 
and Hampstead, I am sorry that I have had no space 
to deal. 

To-day, when the number of persons likely to become 
excited about either ritualism or methodism is appreciably 
diminished, the Dorchester meeting's feelings seem a little 
extravagant. It must not be imagined, however, that 
(save in the one respect of Popery) the chairman at the 
time Lord Lieutenant of Dorcet was addicted to raging 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 307 

furiously. The seventh Earl of Shaftesbury took up the 
matter in the House of Lords, and mentioned the Dorchester 
meeting ("I should not like to repeat the language used 
on this subject ; it was, indeed, of the strongest de- 
scription "). His mind was a convinced Protestant mind, 
and in that regard, perhaps (to pervert a famous phrase), 
was a little " clouded by enthusiasm," from a modern 
point of view. But his deep love of justice and his passion 
for reform, not to be quenched by failure nor to fail through 
too facile investigation, carried with them an authentic 
breadth of outlook. There is no trace of bitterness in his 
attacks upon evil : the only bitter saying of his I have 
noticed is about himself and his circumstances when he 
succeeded to the earldom " I came into an estate rife 
with abominations without a farthing to set them right."* 
His protests against the conditions of village life on his 
family estate seem to have been vehement enough to cause 
some slight estrangement from his father. In spite of limited 
means, however, he succeeded, aided by his sister, in build- 
ing model cottages at Wimborne St. Giles'. He had a real 
respect for the agricultural labourer, and an admiration for 
his genuine skill at his work, and a perception of its loneliness. 
He advocated strongly the better education of the worker's 
children, and the exclusion of young girls from field labour, 
except at harvest time ; and he denounced in the House of 
Lords, in moving terms which showed his knowledge of the 
subject, the infamous " gangs " system. 

He was not backward in reminding his own neighbours in 
the county of some shortcomings. " The county of Dorset," 
he said at a dinner of the Sturminster Agricultural Society 
in 1843, " is in every man's mouth ; we are within an ace 
of becoming a by -word for poverty and oppression ..." 
He spoke of education and housing, and their interrelation. 
" People go to their boards of guardians, and hear the long 
catalogue of bastardy cases, and cry out ' sluts and pro- 
fligates,' assuming that, when in early life these persons 

* From the first Shaftesbury Lecture, by Sir John Kirk. 



308 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

have been treated as swine, they are afterwards to walk 
with the dignity of Christians." 

Let his great-grandfather (appositely born at Exeter 
House, on a site afterwards occupied by Exeter Hall) sum 
up his characteristic, in his Inquiry Concerning Virtue or 
Merit : "To have the natural, kindly, or generous affections 
strong and powerful towards the good of the public, is to 
have the chief means and power of self -enjoyment ; and to 
want them, is certain misery and ill." 

Literature in the nineteenth century was also represented 
in Dorset by Motley, the historian of the Dutch, Solomon 
Csesar Malan (the Oriental scholar), and the beautiful 
unhappy Mrs. Norton, whose pleasant facile pen has added 
epitaphs to her kinsmen's graves at Frampton ; by George 
Meredith, who lived near Lyme for some years, and Alfred 
Russel Wallace, who retired to Parkstone and, later, 
Broadstone, to conduct a highly diverting correspondence 
with the County Council on smallholdings. He got the 
local postman to certify his respectability in applying for 
a holding, and stated that he had many years' experience 
of agricultural science. How far he was in earnest I do not 
know : but he pulled the Council's leg right well. He did 
not get his smallholding. 

That brings us back to the man whom Barnes and Hardy 
have given to literature : the Dorset peasant and the land 
upon which, like the bees, he toils for other people. Even 
now he has not succeeded in making the land good for him- 
self ; even now, after a thousand years of serfdom, he cannot 
truly enjoy that with which he mixes his eternal labour. 

The wholesale enclosures, as I have said, had completed, 
by a series of rapid decisions, the slow inevitable progress 
of the labourer from the position of a landholder or land- 
sharer to that of one whose only property was in his labour. 
And to Dorset the persecutions of 1831-1834 meant that he 
must make no effort to lease or sell that property in com- 
bination or agreement with others who also possessed it. 
He could bargain as an individual, but he must not form 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 309 

a trust or association to protect his property, which, since 
it was his means of life, he must necessarily commit to the 
market. 

But he must live, even like a hog. " At Milton Abbas 
[about 1870] on the average there were thirty-six persons 
in each house, and so crowded were they that cottagers 
with a desire for decency would combine and place all the 
males in one cottage and all the females in another." The 
labourer's wages in the 'sixties might be ten shillings or eleven 
shillings a week ; women on the land were paid sixpence or 
eightpence a day. The greater part of a family, women and 
children alike, had to work on the land, or starve ; or 
rather, work on the land and starve. I should like to define 
starvation as the point at which anyone, even if he were 
the poorest labourer, would feel hungry most of the time. 
It might be good for an employer, body and soul, to have 
that feeling. He might, after a trial of it, feel less inclined 
to write as Mr. Kebbel, a conscientious and sincere upholder 
of his chief Disraeli's conservatism, wrote in the year of the 
Empress of India's Jubilee. Mr. Kebbel observed (in his 
often admirable work on the village labourer) that the 
worst paid subject in Her Majesty's dominions was prosper- 
ing : " the heart of the agricultural labourer has ' waxed 
fat with plenty.' ' It is true that the rebellious fellow lived 
chiefly on bacon fat and bread and cheese : but " even in 
Wiltshire and Dorsetshire " " even " is good " the poor 
have money in the savings banks, and if they choose to 
deny themselves in point of diet, it is rather to their credit 
than otherwise." excellent poor ! Stay with us always. 

The position of the agricultural labourer is an anachron- 
ism. That is putting it temperately. Personally, I find that 
the story of his life in the nineteenth century, when the town 
labourer was winning a measure of freedom, turns me sick. 
In Dorset he was worse paid than anywhere else in England. 
He received payment in kind cider, potatoes, flour 
above the average. It kept him the more dependent. 
However prejudiced writers on the subject may be in various 



310 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

ways, they all agree as to the low wage and the hard work 
in Dorset ; and also as to the bad housing ; and to some 
extent as to bad farming (due, no doubt, in many cases, to 
impossible conditions at the worst period of agricultural 
depression). The one bright spot in the county was the 
extent to which allotments were provided. For the rest 
well, here is a not unique statement from the Poor Law 
Commission report of 1843. At Stourpaine a village of 
ill-repute in those reports a two-roomed cottage, in which 
the upper room at its tallest was only seven feet high, 
contained eleven persons whose combined earnings amounted 
to 16s. 6d. a week. The bedroom was ten feet square. 

Wages ranged between 8s. and 12s. a week for thirty 
years or more. Nothing was paid, as a rule, during periods 
of sickness, and the wage did not always include a cottage. 
In 1874 came the great lock-out ; Dorset was involved 
in it. The farmers and yeomen of England were not going 
to pay more than two shillings a day anywhere. A 
Beaminster man told Mr. F. E. Green that about that time 
his father, with a wife and five children, lived on 7s. a week, 
and had to walk four miles every day seven days a week 
to work. The Commission on Agriculture of 1880 still shows 
the Dorset labourer as the lowest-paid Englishman. The 
average in England was 14s. l|d. a week ; the Dorset man 
got 11s. Read Lady Cardigan's reminiscences (the half of 
which was not told us) to see how the profiteers who 
paid the average lived. By 1914 the wage had gone up to 
16s. a week. But for the war there might have been serious 
trouble then. 

Mr. Green also found in Dorset the worst smallholding 
estate he had seen. In the cottages the inhabitants did 
not dare sleep upstairs, for the thatched roof might fall in. 
The beds had to be placed to suit the strength of the floor. 
In one cottage the window could not be opened " for fear 
of the bricks falling down." In another a thistle was grow- 
ing out of the parlour floor ; with a grim sense of humour 
the_tenant had tied it to the wall with bass, " as though it 



HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 311 

were a precious hothouse plant." However, that was 
exceptional. The county has been uneven in its delinquency. 
I have spoken of the slugs of Cerne Abbas. In the more 
neglected villages the cottages simply tumbled down. 
Against that must be set the excellent work done of late 
years at Iwerne Minster by Mr. Ismay, and on the Wimborne 
estates, and by Mr. Debenham at Affpiddle, to name only a 
few examples. 

In 1919 the Agricultural Wages Board established a 
minimum wage of 36s. 6d. a week for the county. The 
Board was abolished in 1921 by the Government which was 
to build Blake's new Jerusalem in England ; apparently 
only for the upper-class Israelite. In the same year the 
ex-mayor of a Dorset town was charged with a gross 
infringement of an act dealing with wages, to which 
he had himself agreed, and to whose scales the whole 
of this particular trade locally had consented. A few years 
before, the Education Committee of the County Council 
approved a school History of Dorset : in many ways an 
excellent work, full of heroes and historic scenes : but it 
does not even mention the Dorchester Labourers. 

" Clear your mind of cant," said Dr. Johnson ; and his 
stress was upon " mind," not upon " cant." The absolute 
prepossession in favour of the established order both of 
things and of ideas is the most dangerous portent in the 
world to-day. One blind force the contented possessors, 
good, well-meaning, sincere, in the main is confronted with 
another blind force, those who possess nothing but their 
bodies and, to some extent, their souls. If ever they possess 
their souls in full, they will break the opposing force as 
Parliaments in the past have broken those who would 
repress them. It is often clear enough, in times of industrial 
trouble, that even the best employer and the best trade 
unionist do not really understand and sympathize with one 
another. There is a gap somewhere between the two types 
of mind. How much more difficult is it to bridge the gulf 
between the farmer, long inured to his routine of authority, 



312 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

but not usually the possessor of his own land, and the 
inarticulate county labourer. 

The impossibility of treating all the farmer's difficulties 
as uniform can be seen by walking through the different 
types of country. Start from Shaftesbury. Here till well 
into the nineteenth century was an old cloth industry, and 
also a button industry. The improvement of machinery and 
transport killed it. But till it expired, the farmers hated it. 
It kept the women and children and even some of the men 
away from labour in the fields. To-day we have to start 
leagues and institutes to revive such industries in the 
farmer's interest. Without some such relief from monotony, 
the labourer and his family will not stay on the land. 

Shaftesbury is on the chalk (upper greensand, strictly). 
It is an island in a sea of Kimmeridge Clay, which merges 
into other clays in Blackmore Vale, lying sheer beneath the 
town's feet. The sheep bells tell you what the farmer of the 
hill has to think about. 

If you like a good road, you can leave Shaftesbury by the 
great Sherborne Causeway, perhaps the oldest main road, 
as such, in Dorset : even in Henry VIII's reign its repair 
was a matter of Government concern. In that case follow it 
as far as East Stour* and then turn south. Many names 
round here suggest a new factor in life, which Shaftesbury 
does not possess the river. This is a Vale of Dairies. 

A straighter way to the heart of the Vale is by either of 
the byroads running south-west from Shaston through 
Todber or Margaret Marsh to Marnhull. That is the 
village where Hardy placed Tess and her noble father. 
It looks down on the Stour, and has a fine church, but is 
not otherwise interesting. 

A road runs south through the close weald country to 
yet another town named from the river Sturminster 

* Where Fielding lived with his first wife and wasted his estate. It is 
said that the curate of Motcombe, not far off, Fielding's tutor in boyhood, 
was the original of Parson Trulliber. Hutchins reports that the redoubt- 
able divine " dearly loved a bit of good victuals and a drop of drink." 
The original of Parson Adams was also a Dorset man. 






HOLY AND HUMBLE MEN OF HEART 313 



Newton. Just west of the stream here is the country of 
Barnes' childhood Bagber Common, the large farm- 
house called Woodlands (the scene of " Fanny's Birthday " 
and the home of " Gruffmoody Grim "), and the Lydden 
Brook. 

Sturminster is a pretty, open little town. Sir Frederick 
Treves speaks affectionately of one of its two attractive- 
looking inns. I have stayed at both. It is unusual to find 
so small a place so well furnished with reasonable accommoda- 
tion. The church is handsome, but no more. The bridge 
is likewise handsome. It leads across the curly river (few 
streams writhe so unceasingly as the Stour) to the former 
" new town," which no longer exists. Not even the Middle 
Age castle stands, except for a few steep grassy mounds. 
For mediaeval warfare it was well placed, being only a few 
miles north of the gap where the river cuts clean through the 
hills. The railway follows the river's lead. 

That gap is very impressive when you are in it at 
Shillingstone or Child Okeford. Hambledon and Hod Hills 
rise very steeply almost out of the river on the east, and to 
the west is the enormous lump of Shillingstone Hill, rising 
equally steeply into the noble ridge of which Bulbarrow, 
about three miles away, is the summit. The Vale is abruptly 
walled off, with only a door half a mile wide in the ramparts. 
Neolithic man and Rome too must have appreciated the 
gap. The hills are full of their remains. 

The road running direct to Blandford is not very interest- 
ing. A pleasanter but longer way is to cross the river again, 
and go through Child Okeford up to the top of the hills 
and along them. The view over the river is exceptionally 
charming. There are various tracks over the chalk downs to 
Blandford.* 

The outskirts of Blandford, especially along the Salisbury 
road, are not pleasing. But the central streets are as good 
Georgian as one could wish to see. It is not uniform in the 

* I do not know how far the war-time occupation of the hills the Naval 
Divisions were trained here still persists. 



314 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

details of its architecture, but it is all in the Georgian spirit, 
for the greater part of the buildings arose together after 
the great fire of 1731, which destroyed most of the town. 
It left untouched, however, a beautiful Tudor mansion of 
red brick in the higher part of the place. 

Here the farmer would not now have much chance. 
Blandford " Forum " (there is no reason to believe it has a 
Roman origin) stands on a slim spit of alluvial land, and 
houses cluster along it. It is, however, the site of an im- 
portant fair the Dorset Horn Sheep Fair, to which 
monstrous rams are brought from all over the county, as 
well as from the neighbouring hills. At one time it was 
celebrated for its point lace, which Defoe said was the finest 
in England : but that industry, too, has vanished. The town 
has a curious reputation for high prices, as Hardy, all- 
observant, notes. I came across an example of the com- 
plaint (before the war) in an inn a few miles away. A woman 
going home from marketing produced a wizened little 
cucumber from her bag. " They charged me ninepence 
for that to Blandford," she told the landlady, " and 'tisn't 
so big as a vinegar bottle. But they do say things is always 
dear in Blandford." 

By this route you will have trodden upon seven different 
soils -Kimmeridge and Corallian beds of the Jurassic 
system, chalk, Upper and Lower Greensand and Gault of the 
Cretaceous strata, and alluvium of the geological present. 
To rear the sheep on the hills and the kine in the valleys, to 
give the land its look of settled old content, their inhabitants 
were paid, before the war, about 16s. a week. Is it wonderful 
that Jude the stonemason echoed ^Eschylus when little 
" Father Time " hanged himself " things are as they are, 
and will be brought to their destined issue " ? 



XV 

" And now being to take our leave of this County, I should, according to 
our usual custom, wish it somewhat for the completing of its happiness. 
But it affording in itself all necessaries for man's subsistence, and being 
thorough the conveniency of the sea, supplied with foreign com- 
modities, I am at a loss what to beg any way additional thereunto. 
Yet, seeing great possessions may be diminished by robbery, may the 
hemp (the instrument of common execution) growing herein be a 
constant monitor unto such who are thievishly given, whither their 
destructive ways tend ; and mind them of that end which is due unto 
them, that they, leaving so bad, may embrace a better (some industrious] 
course of living ! " 

THOMAS FULLER, 

The History of the Worthies of England, 

" Magnus ab integro saeclomm nascitur ordo. 
Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna ; 
Jam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto. . . . 
Non rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem ; 
Robustus quoque jam tauris juga solvit aratro ; 
Nee varios discet mentiri lana colores, 
Ipse sed in pratis aries jam sauve rubenti 
Murice, jam croceo mutabit vellera luto ; 
Sponte sua sandy x pascentes vestict agnos." 

PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MARO, 

Ecloga. 



XV 

AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 




I WILL begin this last chapter in the reverse order to 
that followed hitherto in this book ; by walking, 
in print, half across Dorset the noblest walk, in my 
belief, in the south of England. 

There is a good little inn at Evershot, to which many 
naval men from Portland repair for hunting with the 
Cattistock. Start from there, first visiting the church to 
look at the brass of a priest in vestments, holding a chalice 
and host. It is of William Grey, once rector of the parish, 
to whose soul his Creator was besought to be gracious in the 
year 1524. 

The old house opposite the inn is a pleasant building, 
and so are others in this village, for which I feel hardly the 
mild tolerance that Sir Frederick Treves expresses, but rather 
affection and admiration. Near the east end of the long 
street is the Old Rectory, which indeed is an old and graceful 

317 



318 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

edifice of the beautiful local stone, but not, I am told, the old 
rectory. That habitation, in which Crabbe would have lived 
if he had not been an absentee,* is said to be represented 
by some fragments of wall in the garden of the present house. 

The curious thing about Evershot is its recondite import- 
ance. It is technically a hamlet in the parish of Frome 
St. Quintin (Little Frome). But Hutchins says Evershot 
" was formerly a small market town " ; and it was large 
enough in the eighteenth century to be a station on the 
fine new turnpike-road built in 1754. It was the repository 
of a drum of a company of the first Dorset Volunteers, 
seventy-five strong in 1803. It kept a wake after the great 
Woodbury Hill fair. It maintained archery butts till the 
end of the sixteenth century. And it has a railway station 
named after it a mile away which is more than can be 
said of Frome St. Quintin ; though on the other hand Little 
Frome is mentioned in Domesday the King held it and 
Evershot is not. 

Following the road east, you pass the gates of Melbury 
House : I have spoken more than once of its owners, the 
family of Strangways, whose old and honourable name is so 
closely connected with the larger issues in Dorset history. 
There is probably no dynasty in the county which can 
show a more vigorous continuity, more active life, than the 
Strangways', who have held Melbury Sampford for so many 
generations. To-day, the semi-patriarchal position of such 
families may be threatened by the Agricultural Workers 
Union, and, no doubt, in the long run, rightly threatened : 
but it is usually based on something deeper and better 
than habitual authority. 

On the road past the station, climbing slowly uphill 
with tributary lanes on either side, into the intricate weald 
on the north, over the hills and valleys to the chalk on the 
south grow in due season wild raspberries and yellow 
mullein, most glorious of English wildflowers. At the top 
of the ridge is an amazing profusion of blackberries, exceeded 

* But he preached at Evershot at least once. 






AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 319 

in size only by the Eggardon monsters. And when you reach 
what is clearly the summit (a number of cross " roads " 
with a small copse), you are once more at the most beautiful 
place in Dorset Batcombe Hill. 

I have been up many high hills in many parts of England ; 
and there is even in Dorset a more spacious view than 
Batcombe Hill affords. But I know nothing more satisfying, 
even overwhelming, than the pageant of English country 
below you here. The gorse not merely never ceases to bloom, 
in its kindly solicitude for lovers ; acres of it flame all the 
year round. You will seldom fail to find some heather out : 
the bracken is yellow or green or golden in turn : foxgloves, 
honeysuckle, wild roses, harebells all the flowers that are 
most excellently English abound. Yew and holly lie in the 
dark, almost menacing, southward valleys ; and all round 
on every side stretches England, for as far as any human 
eye can see England, the real England. 

A little further on, at the wildest and most desolate part 
of the upland, stands the strange monument known as 
Cross in Hand, to which Tess came in one of her wander- 
ings. It is a shaft of wrought stone, four feet or so high. 
To me it certainly bears the shape of a strong arm ending in a 
fist clenched upon a bar. No one knows its origin. There 
are various legends, stored in Somerset and Dorset Notes and 
Queries and elsewhere. An old inhabitant told Mr. H. J. 
Moule that it was set up to mark the spot where a criminal 
was hung for highway robbery and murder. Another 
story is that a priest, bearing the Sacrament to a dying 
man by night, lost the pyx here. He was directed to it by 
a supernatural pillar of fire, and found it surrounded by 
cattle, all kneeling, save one the Devil in the guise of a 
black horse. Yet another suggestion is that it marks the 
first spot from which the inhabitants of Minterne, who had 
formerly no church and were in the parish of Yetminster, 
could catch sight of Yetminster Church and bury their dead 
there within range of it. A more prosaic explanation is that 
it is a moot-stone. 



320 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

The track all along this glorious ridge is, I think, the old 
turnpike-road, as I have said. It curves with the contour, 
through the Great Ditch, and past the trees of High Stoy, 
down to a brief gap in the height, above Minterne. You 
will see little sign of human life along it, but a million rabbits. 
You will have alongside you all the way the same spacious 
view. 

Above Minterne, after going south-east along Little 
Minterne Hill, it is best to bear due east again, along Rake 
Hill, down into the deep valley by Alton Pancras, up over 
Church Hill, down again to the Mappowder road, up to 
Nettlecomb Tout and the Dorsetshire Gap. 

The Gap is a network of small paths. It is perhaps the 
central point in the watershed of these high hills. On one 
side the River Lydden starts, flowing nearly due north 
until, as a stream of some size, it joins the Stour above 
Sturminster, to turn abruptly south with the larger river 
and pierce, at Shillingstone, the ridge from which it first 
sprang. On the south slope springs the goodly River 
Piddle, who makes no attempt on the hills, but runs cheer- 
fully between the ridges of the Great Heath to join the 
Frome at Wareham. 

From the Gap there is a pleasant path down to Melcombe 
Horsey, where gracious Perpendicular stone mullions and 
mouldings, perhaps remains of the old manor of the De 
Horseys, or of a church, still exist in the later walls of the 
farmhouse. 

Here, at the road, there are several choices. The object 
of this walk is to reach the top of Bulbarrow. The direct 
way is to go straight up the road north-east. But a longer 
way, involving a sight of one of the most beautiful of all 
stone manor-houses, is to continue east through Bingham's 
Melcombe, and then across to Hilton (by a footpath not 
marked on the map), to look at the painted panels of th 
Apostles in the church. They come from Milton Abbey ; 
and it is worth while to go further and take the road across 
the Park so as to see the Abbey beyond the lawn, shining in 







AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 321 

grey beauty against a background of dark trees. From 
either Hilton or from the westernmost lodge of the park 
there is a road up to the top of the ridge. 

And here, before I speak of Bulbarrow, I will say how 
to get away from it, for it is eight miles from any resources 
of civilization. One method is to walk along the ridge and 
drop into the pretty village of Ibberton, past Belchalwell, 
and by the footpath over Okeford Common (very heavy 
going in a wet season) to Sturminster. Another is to take 
the direct road down to Sturminster through Woolland. 
Another is go by the equally direct road through Okeford 
Fitzpaine to Shillingstone. Yet another is to go to Bland- 
ford through two of the Winterbornes (at Stickland take 
the secret-looking track running east, rather than the north- 
by-east road the drive across Bryanston Park has forbidding 
notices). This is a good way, because from the road you get 
enchanting glimpses of the Isle of Wight through gaps in the 
hedge. A more devious but fine way of escape is along 
the ridge north-north-east towards Ibberton, turning a 
point east above that village, along Bell Hill, bending back 
south-east at Turnworth Hill and so by infinitely wavering 
paths to Durweston and eventually Blandford. 

When you reach Bulbarrow it is worth while to turn off 
westwards for a few hundred yards to look at Rawlsbury 
Camp. It juts out over Blackmore Vale, one more pro- 
montory fort, like a threat. 

But the height of Bulbarrow itself is the place to rest. 
This, I think, is the steepest hill in Dorset ; and the view 
is the most spacious in the south of England. From the 
high ground near Winchester to the hills of Devon, from the 
Isle of Wight to the Mendips, from Purbeck to Salisbury 
Plain and Mere, you can look with no limit but the strength 
of your eyes. 

And here, too, you are within sight of everything that 

has happened in Dorset. Rawlsbury gives you the Stone 

Age. On the road to Sturminster, at Fifehead Neville, 

almost at your feet, is a Roman villa. You can see Alfred's 

Y 



322 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

town of Shaftesbury only a few miles away. Many of the 
village names are half-Norman Fitzpaine (Okeford is in 
Domesday), Neville, de Horsey, Bryan. Milton Abbey is 
only just behind you. The Clubmen met at Shaftesbury 
and surrendered on Hambledon Hill. The road you are on 
is a mid-eighteenth-century turnpike. William Barnes 
walked the lanes and paths below you. Until almost the 
end of the great war Shillingstone held the record of having 
sent more of its sons to fight, in proportion to its population, 
than any other village in England. 

That at least is one permanent thing in Dorset folk. 
" Who's afeard ? " is one of the county mottoes ; not the 
men of Dorset, at any rate. They stood up against 
the Roman and the Saxon : they fell at Hastings : they 
resisted Spain and Boney equally : they tried to stop 
the Civil War : they were sent overseas in chains 
for their courage. It was a Dorset man who died to 
blow up the Cashmere Gate at Delhi in the Indian 
Mutiny Salkeld of Fontmell Magna. It was a Dorset 
man who first won a V.C. in the air Rhodes -Moorhouse 
of Parnham. 

The history of the County regiment, creditable enough, 
is a record of hard fighting in many lands. It was summed 
up in a Times leading article during the war. The regiment 
was in the great retreat : it died. It lost four hundred 
men in a battalion. The Times took one of its nameless 
actions as typical, and spoke of it as the kind of unadvertised 
regiment which makes the backbone of the British Army. 
I should have said, rather, the ever-flowing life-blood. 
The 39th Regiment of Foot, now the Dorsets, bears the proud 
and unique motto of " Primus in Indis," for it was the first 
King's regiment to be employed in the India, won by John 
Company : in token of which the county Territorials were 
placed at the head of their fellow-regiments when English 
troops first landed in India in the Great War once more 
" Primus in Indis." On their colour are (among others) 
the names of Plassey, Gibraltar (for the four years' siege 



AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 323 

its colonel " was the soul of the defence," and is buried 
there), Vittoria, Peninsula, Albuera. 

They were likewise, apart from the honourable inscriptions 
on the colours, in almost all places where the arms of England 
ventured : at Dettingen, at Culloden, Martinique, Badajoz, 
Sevastopol, the Tirah Campaign, the Relief of Ladysmith 
(the last three are also on the colours). Once, on the way to 
India where it served so lately as during the Moplah rising 
the regiment came near to disaster : its detachment 
was on the Sarah Sands, the famous ship that caught fire 
in the Indian Ocean, in 1857, when she was laden with troops 
to deal with the Mutiny. The vessel was only held together 
by chains. The last survivor of that event, a Dorset man, 
died in 1912. 

The Territorials stretch back to the old Volunteers, formed 
in 1794-98. The Yeomanry have a fine record, especially 
during the late war, when they had the unique distinction 
of bringing off three successful cavalry charges in the desert 
against the Senoussi, in Palestine, and in Mesopotamia. 
They had a further singular distinction, which is best 
described in the words of Mr. Winston Churchill. " The 
Arab army," said Mr. Churchill to the House of Commons in 
June, 1921, "is already partly formed under the administra- 
tion of Ja'afar Pasha, the present Mesopotamian Secretary 
of State for War. I do not know whether the Committee 
have in their minds the romantic career of this man. He 
began the war fighting against us at the Dardanelles, and 
he received a German Iron Cross. He then came round to 
the Western Desert, where he commanded the army of the 
Senoussi against us. He fought, I believe, three battles, in 
two of which he was victorious, but the third went amiss 
from his point of view, and he was wounded and pursued 
by the Dorsetshire Yeomanry and finally caught in the open 
field, taken to Cairo as prisoner of war and confined in the 
citadel. He endeavoured to escape, but, being (sic) a some- 
what ample personage, the rope by which he was descending 
from the wall of the citadel broke and precipitated him 



324 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 






into a ditch, where his leg was broken. While he was in 
hospital recovering from these injuries he read in the papers 
that King Hussein, the Sheriff of Mecca, had declared war 
upon the Turks, and he immediately saw that he was on the 
other side to what he had hitherto thought. He therefore 
made representations to the Arab leaders at Mecca, and 
after some hesitation he was given a command in their army. 
He very speedily rose to a position of high confidence and 
distinguished himself greatly in the fighting which took place 
in the next two years. He was finally given the com- 
mandership of St. Michael and St. George by Lord Allenby 
in a hollow square of British troops composed almost 
entirely of the same Dorsetshire Yeomanry which had ridden 
him down." 

In courage, at least, we are no worse than our fathers. 
Are we as good or better in other ways ? More people 
perhaps are comfortable and law-abiding ; but then there 
are more people. Natural needs are more easily supplied, 
with better wares drawn from an infinitely wider world. 
But are there proportionately more good and happy people 
than there were at any one period in the long pageant of 
history ? Was a Celt in a wolf -skin, huddled in a wattle 
hut or awaiting battle on Rawlsbury ramparts, less free, 
more miserable, than a Dorset peasant in a Flanders dug- 
out ? 

But for the war, I should have said that in one respect, 
at any rate, we are better. We are or should be less ready to 
take life, and we are kinder to animals, which is another 
aspect of the same feeling. And we certainly are cleaner 
and know more about sanitation. Probably also, on the 
whole, more people have a chance of prosperity than before. 
Perhaps and this is where I doubt whether any change 
which has taken place is relative or absolute perhaps we 
have a slightly stronger sense of brotherhood. I do not feel 
sure ; we have got rid of legal slavery and serfdom and 
enforced obedience to an overlord. But I am not at all 
certain whether we have advanced far enough towards 



AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 325 

getting rid of virtual serfdom. It is the agricultural labourer 
in a county like Dorset who stirs that doubt. 

As I sat on Bulbarrow one day, a rabbit passed me, within 
a foot or so. She was sweating, going heavily like a thing 
very nigh foundered. A few minutes later it was at least 
three or four minutes, even in that remote stillness where 
time might well have stopped came the stoat. He did not 
see me at first, in his intentness : but a couple of yards away 
he became aware of a foreign body, sat up on his haunches, 
his forepaws just resting on the ground, and looked at me 
angrily, defiantly, it seemed : at least with no fear. 
Then he dropped his lithe, beautiful body, made a detour 
round me, picked up the scent again, and went off at a 
steady, certain lope. 

I have seen rabbits in that worse stage, the horrible coma 
which seems to envelop them when the pursuit is nearly 
ended : their great eyes are larger than ever, they sweat, 
they are rigid. I remember that I called my dog off one 
(and he came, good beast) which he was about to worry : 
it never stirred. And the admirable Bedlington cast about, 
and found why. He snuffed the air openly for a minute, and 
then then a stoat had the run of its life. He got away. 
Infthe meantime, as Jeremy (the Bedlington) went conveni- 
ently in another direction, I could look at the wretched 
coney. I had to strike it to make it move : then it went 
rather clumsily into some brambles and vanished. I once 
found a rabbit in a noose near Smedmore, which was similarly 
hypnotized (if that is the right word), it was unhurt. I set 
it free, but had to slap it to make it aware of freedom. 
And I also found a blackbird numbed in the same way in 
a trap. 

Shall I " moralize " the tale, or make emblems as Bunyan 
or Quarles ? Perhaps : but with a difference. " Not 
'zackly so as to please we " should that brave acquiescence 
in an age-long faith still be treated as natural and sacred ? 
Is there no escape, in country life, from the hypnotism of 
immemorial custom ? There is all the long history of both 



326 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

individual and corporate effort behind the agricultural 
labourer still, for all the machine-shops, the most numerous 
and healthy wage-earner in England : all the history of 
slavery to Celts and Romans and Saxons, of serfdom under 
the Normans, of land-bondage from then until to-day. 
Where can they go, these poor men, what money can they 
earn, if the freedom of their village (quite often, may be, 
no more insanitary than a town slum) is not enough for 
their hopes, if they do not want to accept traditions and 
beliefs out of which their lords have very reluctantly 
educated them ? There is only one place to which they 
can go, and that is to hell : the hell of urban labour, or the 
slower hell of urban money-making if they have a gift for it. 

But, like the rabbit, they do not know it is hell. And 
in spite of the fury which consumes me when I see a bent 
rheumatic old labourer, in frowsy tatters that would turn a 
scarecrow into an aristocrat, rather drunk, rather illiterate, 
vaguely pious, skilled at his eternal job when I see him 
going into even a decent modern cottage I cling to the faint 
belief that things are a little better than in 1831, and even 
during the Civil War, and the Black Death, and when the 
Anarchy killed men like flies, and when the Saxons and 
Romans and Celts came : a little better, but not much. 
At least the labourers have had the courage to form unions, 
whose activities irritate parliamentary candidates of un- 
favourable views. But nineteen centuries after Christ we 
ought to have got further than that in making our civic and 
moral conduct keep pace without material improvements. 
It ought not to be beyond the wit of man to farm so com- 
petently as to make the rural housing problem (the con- 
clusion of the whole matter) no problem. 

I know that is an easily given opinion, and that the 
question is not easy, nor all the arguments necessarily on 
one side. The points seem to be these. The landlord, not 
always directly interested in the land, and often only 
through a paid agent, knows the farmer more intimately 
than the labourer, but all the same society being what it 



AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 327 

is, or at any rate was until recently has a position to keep 
up and wants his rents. The farmer is not necessarily a man 
with fluid capital, nor is he always ready to acquire new 
knowledge, even if he has the capacity or time (a good 
farmer works very hard, remember). The weak point in 
his case, since agriculture has really become an industry, 
is his preference for paying income-tax upon double his 
rent (which he knows) rather than upon his real income, 
which he can't and won't compute. But that again is also 
a point for him : his money is locked up in solid things 
which one unforeseeable season may destroy, whose value 
he can never really tell at any moment, whose market value 
is affected by a hundred different systems of weights and 
measures, by deals in kind, by his own use of his own pro- 
duce. On the other hand, in a county like Dorset, he has 
often the opportunity of direct dealing with the retailer 
the publican, the butcher, the greengrocer, the milkman 
(who all may be farmers themselves) without a middle- 
man's or market's intervention on many occasions. He 
ought to be a business man. Yet he seems seldom to be 
capitalist enough (nor is the landlord) to be able to sink 
enough money in the land or in stock or machinery to make 
it, so to speak, an up-to-date factory. He cannot at any 
rate does not go to the public and ask them to take up 
shares in Cows Limited or Amalgamated Wheat Producers 
Limited : and I am not sure that the shares would be 
underwritten if he did. We have not evolved a satisfactory 
system of agricultural banks yet. 

At the same time, I do not believe England is adequately 
farmed even under existing methods : only a little more 
knowledge would make a great deal of difference did, 
when during the war there was a little more money to be 
made out of it without really developing new activities and 
new modes of thoughts and new vitality. 

The labourer sees fresh amenities being provided for him : 
clubs, institutes, an occasional day off, village cinemas. 
But he does not see his lot changed in essence. He is still 



328 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

another man's man. He sees also that many Acts of Parlia- 
ment " have a catch in them " : particularly that one of 
compulsory powers which are never used. He cannot often 
put up the little capital for a smallholding, and he has no 
backer to lend him the money, even if, with a grooved 
knowledge of the work of cultivation, he is really likely to 
understand its principles and be successful. And he is still 
expected to know his place,* and to work like a negro in 
the plantations if his employers can only get rid of the 
eight-hour day, as they openly wish to do. 

As I write this, the Trade Unionists of the country have 
begged the agricultural unionists not to go back to the pre- 
war rates, at whatever cost they resist : and the organs 
of big money have said they must go back, or agriculture 
will be impossible. It seems to me the solution will only 
come when the genuine expert and enthusiast and the 
Ministry of Agriculture is not now a body of amateurs and 
pedants is given power and backed by a Government with 
real driving force and money to sink in ultimately repro- 
ductive work. At one time, with a fairly active Develop- 
ment Commission, with the close inspection of methods 
and distribution of material during a brief period of the 
war, with the additional labour of willing if not always 
skilled women and German prisoners (fas est et ab hoste 
doceri), with some attempt at a housing policy, and a dozen 
suggestive reconstruction schemes, it seemed as if there was 
hope. Now there is not much more than fear of conflict. 

The material improvements in methods have certainly 
been great and continuous for two centuries past, though 
the late war standard of production may now have been 
lowered. The best features of the new age are its genuine 
interest in the science of rural life, its careful investigation 
of ways and means, its willingness to consider agriculture 
as an intricate and highly skilled industry. Its worst 

* It is not strictly relevant, but I cannot help quoting it : " It is a fine 
thing for me that I have lived all this time and have not once heard any 
Englishman or any Englishwoman of my acquaintance say anything aggres- 
sively disloyal" (Mr. Stephen Paget : / have Reason to Believe, 1921). 






AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 329 

feature is the still-surviving deep-rooted antagonism of 
standpoint between master and man (I use those terms for 
convenience only ; they beg my question, really). The 
misunderstanding is mainly on the master's side. You 
cannot read (say) the election address or speeches of a 
Dorset conservative candidate for Parliament without 
becoming aware of it. At the back of Ms mind is a profound 
inability to understand change of mind. Few of the em- 
ploying classes in a purely agricultural county realize fully 
that men human beings, men will never again, even in 
the remotest country districts, be really willing to accept 
betterment of physical conditions as a substitute for absolute 
independence. Labourers will not believe they must always 
be poor. They will not sell their labour, or lease their 
property in it, in exchange only for good drains, neat roads, 
post offices, even for higher wages : they will not accept 
the market as the sole condition of existence. There are 
those in the country for whom a poor man, like a rich man 
or a middle-class man, can feel an immense personal respect 
amounting almost to an acknowledgment of a right to com- 
mand. But that is quite a different pre-eminence from what 
the average landlord even now still expects as a right. 
Whatever may be the landlord's difficulties over housing, 
over second-rate tenants farming his soil imperfectly, over 
bad seasons and capricious prices, the one thing he has got 
to do is to change his mind his mind : to rend his heart, 
and not his garments. His is the mind of the old world, and, 
at that, not of the golden age of the old world. He is no 
longer lord, whatever his legal rights. He is trustee- 
administrator, and his humblest tenant is his equal as a man 
and as a citizen. He can say, if he please, " this is mine " ; 
but the claim is no longer admittedly valid if it is based 
upon inheritance. If it is based upon purchase well, 
financiers go to the lamp-post early in revolutions. 

It remains to be seen whether the new owners of to-day 
for a major part of England has changed hands in the last 
few years will learn what industry has learnt. The great 



330 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

industrial employers at least respect the great industrial 
leaders, as well as their men. They know now that even 
well-paid workmen do not down tools and risk starvation 
for themselves and their families no bleating about 
agitators and strike pay and doles really disproves that 
risk without at least some substance in their cause. The 
better sort of employer knows also that behind whatever 
may be the substance of a supposed injustice, there is now 
a new point of view. 

There is also a new point of view, probably, in the minds 
of those who have freshly acquired the soil of England : 
the earth that lives on English flesh and blood, hides English 
bones. I do not know what they think. I could wish that 
when they are, as often, men who have made money 
honourably by business, they would view the culture of the 
land as a business. I believe that not only a revolution of 
the spirit but a revolution of financial outlook is needed. A 
great deal of hard money is needed to render backward soil 
fertile, to reclaim waste land, to breed scientific crops as 
well as stock, to pay for agricultural education (from top 
to bottom), to improve communications, to build good 
houses and, while the financier waits for the returns which 
a vast outlay in industry will command when the spade 
work is done, to pay good wages. 

" Landlord," " farmer," " publican " : a comparison of 
the derivative meaning of those words with their modern 
colloquial sense is a lesson in economics. The only word 
in the agricultural " Who's Who " which does not change 
its true connotation much is " labourer."* 



Have I found peace in demi-paradise ? For my selfish 
self, yes, and infinite happiness. But for the self which loves 
England, no. It seems to me that there are half a dozen 
points of view which one may take about a county like 
Dorset, and about the lives of those who make it a dwelling- 

* " One who labours." N.E.D. 



v**^ 

. 



AN EXCEEDING HIGH PLACE 331 

place for humanity ; and all of them are only half -true, and 
more or less contradictory. One can sit on a high empty 
hill in the sun, and wonder at the simple beauty of England : 
the light, the green grass, the careful hedges, sheep, a brook, 
elm or oak, a vociferous magpie, a yellowhammer, the 
concert of homely birds. And then a labourer comes in 
sight ; labouring. It is not only of an English economic 
problem that he is the emblem. He is Man, and a much 
better man than many of us. He is the heir of all the ages : 
he has conquered the difficult earth. Upon him, and upon 
him only, in the first instance, rest our life, our civilization, 
our arts, our peace. Men who have become enlarged 
through his labour have used their brains to give him more 
efficient tools. Associations of men, which we call towns 
or cities, have been formed, through greed or necessity or 
ambition, to supply him, by way of middlemen the land- 
lord, the farmer, the shopkeeper with the means of his 
arduous life. You cannot live on coal or iron ore : you can 
live on the work done by the agricultural labourer the 
peasant, the pagan, the man of the country, the man who 
makes and has made the world habitable. His is the most 
enduring of all crafts, the most inevitable. He makes it 
possible for me to write a book. He lets me hear the night- 
ingale (but very rarely in Dorset). He enables me to play 
cricket, to drink good Dorchester ale, to walk the field-paths 
and roads, to eat Blue Vinney. He also crucifies jays, and 
is often very dirty. 

And is he English ? What in this county of the Western 
Marches is an Englishman ? Scientists will define him by 
his cranial index, his hair, his physique, his speech. You 
can trace a line of Danes from Wareham to Severn Sea, by 
that kind of mark. You can find in Ireland men more 
" Irish " than the Celtic Irish, with not a drop of Celtic 
blood in their veins. There is something perdurable in 
the associations and creative effect of place : in the climate, 
may be, in the arts and crafts to which the particular soil 
forces its parasites, and in the accumulated mind of genera- 



332 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

tions on the same spot. You become English by living in 
England, whether you trace your descent to Athelstan or to 
yesterday's alien or to a nameless Neolithic shepherd. 

That mixture of blood may be the dim cause of our troubles 
in rural England ; the old incompatibilities of race may not 
yet be sufficiently softened and fused. I doubt it : all 
history, with its story of common intercourse and inter- 
changed, ever-changing lordship by men of each and every 
stock, is against such a view. It seems to me that our 
difficulties are deep-rooted in the mind of man, to be 
destroyed only by that psychical change which the religious 
name conversion. I do not profess and call myself a Christian 
in any dogmatic sense ; but I believe that the pale Galilean 
must conquer in spirit if we are to have, at long last, an 
earth worthy of its human victor. We are but the paragon 
of animals, so far. We can have no true peace till we become 
as gods all of us. We know quite enough (for to-day's 
moment) about practical reforms, methods, applied science : 
we do not know enough about one another. " This is My 
commandment, that ye love one another " : is that the 
answer ? 



APPENDIX 



APPENDIX 



HOW TO LINK ALL THE RUTTIERS INTO ONE 



THE following notes will show how by a slight trans- 
position here and there and the interpolation of an 
extra walk or two, the scenes described in this book 
may be linked up in a continuous walking tour which will cover 
the greater part of Dorset. 

A word as to the inns. I have inserted their names as a matter 
of convenience, not of confident recommendation. I have had 
meals and in many cases slept at all those mentioned : usually 
in reasonable comfort. But conditions are changing and have 
changed much of late : not all have recovered from the war ; 
and a new tenant may turn a good inn into a bad one, and vice 
versa. For general observations on inns see Chapter XI, pages 
236-238 and below. Inclusion here does not mean there are no 
others as good. 

This is the itinerary. References to " map " mean the one -inch 
Ordnance Map. 

ROUTE 1. From Studland to Lulworth, as described fully 
in the text of Chapter II. Before the war there was an excellent 
little hotel at Sandbanks, across the harbour mouth, and a ferry 
to and fro. This also would be a good starting-place. But I do 
not know that either facility is yet fully re-established. Till 
they are, it is best to go to Studland (" Bankes Arms ") so as to 
arrive in the early afternoon, and visit Little Sea and the Heath 
before starting on the longer walk next day. Swanage is the 
station for Studland (walk 2 miles, drive 3-4). The total 
distance from Studland to West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove 
(" Cove Hotel," " Castle ") is a good sixteen miles : rather more 
if you visit most of the places mentioned in Chapter II. The last 
half of Chapter II I leave till later (Route 12). 

At Lulworth there are alternatives : (a) to walk or drive a 
dreary five miles to Wool and catch a train to Dorchester for 

385 



336 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

the night : in that event, if there is time, Wool Bridge and Manor 
should be looked at and Bindon Abbey (6d.) visited : (b) to stay 
at Lulworth and add an extra walk, thus : 

ROUTE IA. Lulworth Cove to Weymouth along the coast a 
stiff ten miles of magnificent cliff scenery. Train to Dorchester 
(" King's Arms," " Antelope. ") 

ROUTE 2. Dorchester to Abbotsbury, as described in Chapter 
III. If it is fine the Down route is better than the road. To take 
this, follow the Weymouth road to the cemetery; turn right, 
past Maiden Castle. When the grass track has passed a sheep 
dip and joined the Martinstown-Weymouth road, follow it a 
few yards and then turn up the slope between two cottages 
(gate). Near the top of the slope bear to the right, and when 
you see a number of tumuli in front of you and the Hardy 
monument further on, follow your nose due west. After the 
Monument, if you are going on to Abbotsbury Camp, at the point 
where the road curves down to Abbotsbury go through the 
southernmost of several gates in a group in the corner not the 
one marked " to Gorwell " and follow the highest contour 
(along the hedge at first). From the Camp turn back down the 
road for Abbotsbury itself (" Ilchester Arms "). Distance in 
all about twelve miles. Return to Dorchester by train or by one 
of the cross-country ways that can be worked out from the 
ordnance map all good. 

ROUTE 3. Dorchester to Eggardon and Bridport as in 
Chapter IV (latter part). From Eggardon you can follow the 
road through Spyway on to the main road, or, more pleasantly, 
turn off it (see map) to Matravers and Uploders. At the right- 
angle turn in Uploders, where there is a spring, turn left up the 
dark path. At one point you join something like a road for a 
few hundred yards : leave this where it curves south, take a 
gate on the right, and turn sharp left along the left-hand side of 
the field uphill. This brings you out to Lee Lane (see Chap. IX, 
page 176). Distance by this route to Bridport Town (" Grey- 
hound," " Bull ") about eighteen miles ; If miles more to 
Bridport Harbour (" George," " West Bay Hotel," " Bridport 
Arms "). The way by the main road after Spyway takes a mile 
or two off ; a fine road, but infested by motors. A much shorter 
way is to end the journey just after Eggardon, and go down to 
Powerstock Station and take a train (not from Powerstock 
village see map, and Chap. VI). 



APPENDIX 337 

ROUTE 4. To get to the Saxons, the journey described in 
Chapter XII must be interpolated here Bridport Harbour to 
Weymouth. About twenty-six miles. Train from Wey mouth to 
Corfe Castle (" Greyhound," " Bankes Arms.") 

ROUTE 5. Corfe Castle to Shaftesbury (" Grosvenor Arms,'* 
where they brew their own beer), as in Chapter V. This probably 
ought to be a two -day journey broken at Blandford. The 
pleasantest way, in my opinion, is Wareham (see Church and 
walls and bridge) Lytchett Matravers Sturminster Marshall 
(see Church) Shapwick the Tarrants Blandford ; then along 
the Salisbury road to the cemetery, and left over the downs ; 
lonely byroads almost all the way. If opportunity occurs, go 
down to the village of Iwerne Minster (pronounced " you-ern " 
" Talbot ") and see it and the church, of which William of Wykeham 
was once vicar : it adds two miles to the distance, which is about 
thirty-five miles. If you go by way of the Roman road and 
Wimborne (the Minster is worth it, but to me the journey is less 
attractive), a train from Wimborne to Blandford will be helpful. 

ROUTE 6. Interpolate the walk from Shaftesbury to Blandford 
here (see Chap. XIV for details). Distance according to alter- 
native chosen 16 to 25 miles. 

ROUTE 7. Blandford to Dorchester along the Roman road. 
Walk or train to Spettisbury (see Crawford Bridge), up over the 
Rings, and by winding byroads (see map) to join the Roman 
track at Bushes Barn. Route quite clear on map to Tolpiddle. 
Thence main road to Piddletown (" King's Arms," " Blue 
Vinney ") : turn left at entrance to village, over White Hill, 
round Rainbarrow ; left at cross roads to Lower Bockhampton, 
then footpath by stream to the main road close to Dorchester. 
20-21 miles in all. 

ROUTE 8. Train to Maiden Newton (" White Horse," " Station 
Hotel ") : Maiden Newton to Powerstock (see Chapter VI for 
details). For Frome Vauchurch, which deserves a digression, 
turn to the left as you face the " White Horse," and take the 
first turning to the right ; left across the river. Seven or eight 
miles with much room for more. 

Accommodation here may be difficult, as it is limited, though 
all the little inns are friendly : it is probably best to take a train 
(or walk) to Evershot (" Acorn ") or Dorchester and return to 
Maiden Newton the next day. 



338 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

ROUTE 9. Maiden Newton to Bere Regis (" Royal Oak," also 
a home brewer), through Sydling, Cerne, and the Piddle villages ; 
see all the churches. From 16 to 22 miles according to path 
chosen. The main road is alive with motors : the other roads 
all lonely. 

Accommodation at Bere Regis is also limited. This is the most 
difficult stage of the progress. If you cannot get in at Bere you 
had better walk or drive (cars on hire) either back to Dorchester 
or on to Wareham (" Red Lion," " Black Bear "). The next 
stage begins at Burton Bradstock (" Anchor "), near Bridport. 
It is quite easy, if there is room at Bere, to devise a noble walk 
over the Heath and back by train (the next day Route OA) ; 
say, by the path up past the cemetery, by the middle track across 
Bere Heath to Turner's Puddle ; so to Throop Clump and the 
high ridge by which lies Culpepper's Dish one of several strange 
cup-like subsidences in this region. Thence either by Moreton 
(" Frampton Arms," by station) or Tincleton to Dorchester, and 
on by train or motor -bus to Bridport. A motor carrier runs on 
certain days between Dorchester and Bere ; on others from Bere 
to Poole. Enquire at Dorchester about this. Messrs. Ling of 
Dorchester issue a useful list of such facilities. 

ROUTE 10. Walk to Burton from Bridport or West Bay 
(unless you stayed the night there already there are lodgings 
as well as the inn : so also at most of the seaside villages) 
Burton to Sherborne (" Digby Arms") (see Chapter VIII) 
(Puncknowle is pronounced Punnle, and Leigh Lie) ; 20-27 
miles according to route. Sandwiches are necessary. 

Stay the night either at Sherborne or Yeovil (" Three Choughs," 
" Mermaid "). Motor-bus next day to South Perrott. Follow 
the gipsies' route (see Chap. X) to Abbotsbury, and if possible 
on to Dorchester (or train to Dorchester), and back by train or 
motor-bus to Bridport. Distances are given in the text. 

ROUTE 11. Motor-bus Bridport (or Bridport Harbour) to 
Beaminster (" White Hart "). Beaminster to Net her bury, 
Whitchurch, Symondsbury, and Bridport ; see text for details 
and distances. Inns at all three villages. 

ROUTE 12. Bridport Harbour to Lyme Regis (" Royal Lion," 
" Three Caps ") and back : outwards, over Golden Cap (see 
Chap. II, end) : return, along the main road (see Chap. IX). 
Eighteen long miles in all. Whatever you do do iiot leave the 



APPENDIX 339 

cliff route to form the second half of the journey. The easiest way 
to take it is to miss Eype's* Mouth, and the descent to sea-level 
there. Go up over the west cliff between the new houses, and make 
for Eype church, past Cliff Cottage : then along the road to Eype 
Down, round it on the far side, over a gate in the right-hand 
south corner, along the left-hand edge to the back of Thorn- 
combe Beacon. The track then runs west one hundred yards 
or so inland. At Sea Town (" Anchor ") observe the directions 
in Chapter II. On Golden Cap get the country in front of you 
well into your mind's eye, and steer for Upcot and Frenchay 
Farm : do not go along the coast edge after Stanton St. Gabriel. 
On Stonebarrow Hill you can either turn to the left just above 
Frenchay Farm and so to Char Mouth, or go on into Charmouth 
village (" Coach and Horses ") at its east end ; and from Char 
Mouth by fields without going into the village at all. There is 
another obvious short cut across the fields into Lyme itself, from 
the summit of the road. The very short quiet walk round Lyme 
described in Chapter XI may be taken after a judicious luncheon 
and rest. 

ROUTE 13. Evershot to Blandford (train up to Evershot the 
night before or early in the morning) (see Chapter XV for 
details). The longest route described there (by Hilton, Milton, 
and Turn worth Down) is about thirty-eight miles : the shortest 
.direct to Sturminster (" Swan," " White Hart "), about twenty. 
Sandwiches essential on this journey. 

ROUTE 14. Train from Blandford or Sturminster to Spettis- 
bury : thence to Pentridge and Cranborne (" Fleur-de-Lys " 
locally known as Flower de Luce) (see Chapter IV for much 
of the route). Cross Crawford Bridge to Shapwick, and so to 
Badbury Rings. Thence by the straight Ackling Dyke (see map 
and text) up to the border of the county. Turn rather more 
than a right angle by a footpath over Pentridge Hill to Cran- 
borne, where the lovely manor-house can be seen at close quarters, 
and the church, with curious wall-paintings, visited. About 
15-18 miles in all. Sandwiches desirable. From here you can 
easily get to the railway at Daggon's Road or Verwood, and so 
farewell to Dorset. 

I ought to add to this Ruttier some geographical reference to 
the works of Thomas Hardy, my deep love of which has, I hope, 

* Pronounced Eep. 



340 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

become apparent. There is an exhaustive, even exhausting, book 
on Hardy topography, by Mr. Hermann Lea (Macmillan), and a 
less exhausting one by Sir Bertram Windle (Lane) ; and a well- 
arranged " Hardy Dictionary " by Mr. F. 0. Saxelby (Routledge). 
There has sprung up, inevitably, a topographical cult of his novels 
which may temporarily identify one of England's most universal 
writers with purely local conditions though no writer has 
transmuted more splendidly the local into the national. For 
the benefit of those who regard local conditions as more interest- 
ing than great literature, I append a few notes showing which 
of Hardy's works deal with the chief places I mention. I do not 
include small casual references. 

CHAPTER I. Bridport Harbour (" Port Bredy "). See Wessex 
Tales (" Fellow Townsmen "), Tess and The MayorofCasterbridge. 

CHAPTER II. Studland to Lulworth. See The Hand oj 
Ethelberta for Swanage (" Knollsea ") and Corfe Castle (" Corves- 
gate Castle ") ; Far from the Madding Crowd (references also 
elsewhere) for West Lulworth (" Lulstead "). 

CHAPTER III. Dorchester to Abbotsbury. The Mayor of 
Casterbridge (and many other references, especially in the Poems), 
for Dorchester (" Casterbridge "), and Fordington (" Durnover ") ; 
the Poems, passim, for Maiden Castle and Blackdown. It is 
possible that the Great Barn, in Far from the Madding Crowd, is 
the Abbotsbury barn, an infinitely more impressive building 
than that at Cerne, which Mr. Lea suggests as the original. 

CHAPTER IV. The Roman roads. Dorchester as above. 
" Long Ash Lane," of Tess and other works, is the stretch 
near Maiden Newton. Eggardon (" Eggar ") and Poundbury 
(" Pummery ") come into the Poems, and Poundbury into The 
Mayor of Casterbridge. A portion of the road near Milborne St. 
Andrew is hinted at in Two on a Tower, and the country just east 
of Dorchester is described intimately in Far from the Madding 
Crowd. 

CHAPTER V. Studland to Shaftesbury. For Corfe, see Chapter 
II. Wareham is the "Anglebury" of The Hand of Ethelberta 
(Lytchett Minster appears here) and The Return of the Native, 
in which the Great Heath is described in imperishable words. 
Wimborne (" War borne ") is in Two on a Tower, Blandford 
(" Shottsford ") in The Woodlanders and Far from the Madding 



APPENDIX 341 

Crowd. Shaf tesbury is the scene of much of Jude the Obscure : and 
Tess crossed this country in her unhappy journey from Marnhull 
(" Marlott ") to Cranborne (possibly " Chaseborough "). 

CHAPTER VI. Maiden Newton to Powerstock. Maiden Newton 
is " Chalk Newton " of Wessex Tales : in which my surname has 
the honour of appearing ; but I am afraid I do not own a farm 
there like my namesake. So far as I know, the other places are 
not mentioned by Hardy. 

CHAPTER VII. Maiden Newton to Bere Regis. Maiden Newton 
as above. Piddletown is " Weather bury " of Far from the 
Madding Crowd : the " Vale of Great Dairies " of Tess also lies 
in this region. Bere Regis (" Kingsbere ") is likewise in Tess. 
On Woodbury Hill close by is held the wasp-haunted fair de- 
scribed in Far from the Madding Crowd. 

CHAPTER VIII. Burton to Sher borne. Sher borne is the 
" Sherton Abbas " of The Woodlanders, which describes the Black- 
more Vale country generally (as Tess also does). Other places 
are not mentioned. 

CHAPTERS IX and X. The only Hardy " site " is Beaminster 
(" Emminster," of Tess). 

CHAPTERS XI and XII deal with the scene of The Trumpet 
Major ; " Budmouth," of course, is Weymouth, and most of the 
sites can be very easily identified. Chapter XIII covers the 
Blackmore Vale country already mentioned. 

CHAPTER XIV starts at " Evershead " (Evershot, of Tess). 
The Cross-in-Hand is the subject of one of the poems, The Lost 
Pyx, and appears in Tess. High Stoy appears in a preface 
quoted in the text that of The Woodlanders, which also con- 
tains other places (Okeford Fitzpaine " Oakbury Fitzpiers ") 
mentioned here and elsewhere. 

Hardy is, of course, the great name in Dorset literature. I 
have spoken of other Dorset writers in the course of this book, 
and works of local application are abundant. Modern fiction about 
the county is represented by a number of novels by Mrs. M. E. 
Francis, Mr. Orme Agnus, and Miss G. MacFadden. 

Sixteen walks, seventeen days ; say, three weeks. It is worth 
it, even if you do not find all the inns comfortable : possibly not 
all immaculately clean. You must not expect too much. You 



342 THE MARCHES OF WESSEX 

may expect civility and kindness in abundant measure : lonely 
roads, empty footpaths, adorably varied and unforbidden 
country. 

The one -inch ordnance maps are essential ; five cover virtually 
the whole county. Any smaller scale is useless in a county like 
Dorset. The road standard is not (thank God) that of motorists. 
Many alleged third-class roads on the one -inch map are not 
roads at all, but a couple of ruts in turf : many paths marked 
are very indistinct. There are only three main roads which 
motorists use virulently, and they are often not good (I gather 
that the local stone is too friable for road surfaces) from Poole 
and Wareham to Dorchester, from Poole, Wimborne and Bland- 
ford to Dorchester, all uniting in the Dorchester-Bridport- 
Axininster-Exeter road ; and from Shaftesbury to Sherborne, 
Yeovil and Axminster to the same end : the Dorchester to 
Weymouth branch is also contagious. Many motor-bus and 
motor carrier services (more than I can keep pace with) are 
growing up on the chief minor roads. They are badly needed for 
agricultural transport. But even when they are fully developed, 
there will still be a thousand lanes and footpaths " the world 
forgetting, by the world forgot." I would only say to those who 
use them, use them decently and reasonably. Trespass is a small 
thing in itself : few good farmers or landowners in an open 
country really mind it : abused, it is a great evil, the enemy .of 
society as well as of sound farming. 

I hesitate to add any practical advice to walkers. But for 
those who have yet to learn by experience I would say this. 
Have a bag or trunk with plenty of clean clothes sent on by 
rail every two or three days to one of your calling-places. Carry 
with you, if you use a rucksack, whatever else it contains, a 
clean extra pair of thick socks (undarned if possible), which put 
on immediately the walk is ended, and a pah* of comfortable 
slippers. Let all your clothing be loose enough for ease but not 
so loose as to sag and catch dust and rain. Use a sound ointment 
like lanoline or vaseline for your feet before and after walking, 
whether you feel tired or not. Wear thick boots (the use of 
rubber pads is a matter of taste : I like them). If you can 
manage it, carry with you in your rucksack the smallest possible 
tongue in a glass, some biscuits or a roll, and a flask of some 
cordial : you may get lost, and Dorset is a desolate county in 
places. I recommend brown sherry a little diluted (I know it 
is a vile suggestion, but I have tried most things). If you use 






APPENDIX 343 



tobacco, take as much of your fancy as you can store : Dorchester, 
Weymouth, and Sherborne are good centres for it, the rest poor. 
Carry a crooked ash stick : it will not break, and the crook is 
useful. 

You will not find, if you are of civil address (as all who read 
this book must be), that even the good hotels in the towns are 
(as yet) exigent in the matter of dress ; nor are they (with one 
exception, and that is worth it) unduly high, as a rule, in prices. 
At the lesser inns in villages you may only be able to get beer or 
cider and cheese, and eggs, and tea : not bad fare. At the larger 
hotels in the towns you may get a three-or four-course English 
dinner and a corresponding lunch. Bathrooms are not universal, 
but more frequent than legend suggests. If you only know how 
to find out the ostler is the best starting-place, especially if you 
still know a little about horses there are plenty of conveniences 
in the way of carriers and station buses and farm carts and milk- 
men, to aid you with your burden. The railway services cut the 
county into cubes, more or less : Cranborne Chase and the Bul- 
barrow ridge are the worst places for desolation. Cross-country 
connections are very bad. Avoid trying to make them at the 
three stations at Yeovil as you would the Devil, and pray for the 
soul and recent good intention of Sir Eric Geddes. God rest you. 



INDEX 



Abbotsbury, 48-49, 41, 45, 170, 201, 205 
222, 247, 251 

Abbey, 48, 76, 95, 112-113 

Camp, 47-49, 259 

Church, 48-49 

Swannery, 261-263 
Tithe-Barn, 48, 263 

Ackling Dyke, the, 218 
Adams, Parson, 312 

slfric, 75, 118, 306 

fpiddle, 122, 116, 311 
Agglestone, the, 19-20 
Agincourt, 114 

Agricultural Wages Board, 311 
Aiulf, 76 

Alban's Head, St., 22 
Aldhelm, saint and bishop, 22, 74, 77, 153 
Aldhelm's Head, St., 21-22 
Alford, Gregory, 177-180 
Alfred, King, 74-75, 77, 83 
Alington, Lord, 148 
Allington, 175, 294 
Almar, 98 
Aimer, 134 
Alton Pancras, 320 
Aluric, 149 

Alward, Chap. VI passim, 265 
Amber in Dorset, 44 
Ancren Riwle, the, 113-114 
Angel, James, 211-212 
Anning, Mary, 33-34, 232 
Antelope, The (Dorchester), 197, 202, 237 
Anvil Point, 22 

Arbuthnot, Admiral Marriott, 244, 245, 247 
Argyle, Duke of, 179 
Arish Mell Gap, 30-31, 57-58 
Armada, Spanish, 141-143 
Armstrong, Sir William, 301 
Arne Bay, 18 

Arnold, Melchisedech, 212-213 
" Arripay," 109-110 
Arthur, King, 63, 19, 28 
Arundel, Roger, 100 
Askatham, 176 
Askerswell, 176-177 
Assize, the Bloody, 41, 183-185 
Athelhampton, 121, 133 
Athelstan, 10, 40, 75 
Augustine, St., 119 

Austen, Jane, 233 ; quoted, 230, 232, 234 
Austin, St., 119 
Avalon, 27 
Axe Valley, the, 290 
Axminster, 142, 172, 176, 227 
Ayrton, the Rt. Hon. A. S., 300-301 



Badbury Rings, 61-63, 28, 55, 56, 73, 166- 

168, 298-299 
Badonicus, Mons, 73 
Bagber Common, 313 
Bailey, John, 213 
Baker, Hugh, 163 
Ballard Down, 20, 247 
Bance, Mr., 196 
Bancks, Jacob, 191, 204 
Bankes, Henry, M.P., 199 
Barbary pirates, 110, 139, 250-251 
Barnes, William, 301-303, 41, 94, 297, 313 
Barneston Manor, 29 
Bartlett, Robert Abram, 140 
Basinestoke, 219-220 
Bastard, the Rev. Thomas, 134-136 
Batcombe, 151-152, 118 
Batcombe Hill, 319, 161 
Bath. 184 

Beach, Mr., of Bridport, 173, 175 
Beaminster, 283-284, 57, 191, 310 
Beaminster Down, 303 
Beckford, Peter, 203 
Bedford family, 145-147 
Bell, Dr. Andrew, 228-229 
Bell Hill, 321 
Bennett, John, 184 
Bere Regis, 123-127, 56, 67, 78, 95, 96, 111, 

131, 134-135 

Bermudas, the, 143-145, 194, 250 
Bertufus, 48, 54 
Berwick farm, 146-147 
Best, the Rev. and Hon. Samuel, 300 
Bettiscombe, 290 
Bewley, Francis, 215-216 
Bexington, 48, 148, 259 
Bickley, Francis, 235 
Bindon Abbey, 111-112, 119 
Bindon Hill, 30-31, 57 
Bingham's Melcombe, 134, 320 
Birdsmoor Gate, 290 
Black Death, the, 77, 107, 114-115, 266 
Blackdown, 44-46, 31 
Blackmore Vale, 151-152, 80, 95, 312-313, 

321-323 
Blagdon, 228 
Blake, Admiral, 165, 248 
Blandford, 313-314, 9, 126, 165, 191, 203- 

204, 276, 278-279, 300 
Blandford St. Mary's, 193, 300 
Bloody Assize, the, 183-185, 41 
Bloody Bank (Wareham), 185 
Bloody Lane (Bothenhampton), 180 
Bokerly Dyke, 43, 53-54, 56, 218 
Bond, family of, 29 



345 



346 



INDEX 



Bond, Hugh, 213 

Bond, John, M.P., 199 

Bonfield, 96 

Bonvile de Bredy, 96 

Bothenhampton, 180 

Bottlebush Down, 64, 218 

Bournemouth, 28 

Bradpole, 176 

Bredy, 10, 96 

Bredy Farm, 145 

Brentford, 219-220 

Bretel, 98 

Brichtuin, 120 

Bride, River, 10 

Bride valley, 145-146 

Bridgewater, 197-198 

Bridport, 7-10, 32, 55-57, 75, 97, 110, 166, 

170-178, 180, 184, 201, 227, 236, 237, 244, 

293-294 

Bridport, Viscount, 244 
" Bridport dagger, a," 9 
Bridport Arms, The, 8 
Bridport Harbour (West Bay), 3-10, 33, 

249-250, 256-257, 304 
Bridport Shipyard, 5, 250 
Brihtric, 76, 99 
Brine, James, 279-283 
Bristol, Lord, 160 
Brit, River, 7-8 

British and Foreign School Society, 228 
Broadley, A. M., 175-176, 246-247 
Broadwindsor, 176-178, 99, 161, 288 
Browne, family of, 192 
Browne, Thomas, 121 
Brute, King, 81 
Bryanston, 277 
Bryanston Park, 321 
Bubb, Jeremias, 195 
Buddie, River, 232 
Bulbarrow, 320-325, 31, 289, 313 
Bull Inn, The, Bridport, 180 
Bullen, Admiral Sir C., 247 
Bundi, 150 
Burnet, Bishop, 182 
Burney, Fanny, 226-227 
Burton Bradstock, 257-258, 116, 145, 170, 

234, 245, 247 
parish boundary, 8 
Burton Freshwater, 257 
Bussey Stool Walk, 203-204 
Butler, Robert, 174 
Butler, Samuel, 134 

Caesar, Julias, 54, 64-65 

Camden Society's Papers, 185 

Candida, St., 75 

Canning, Elizabeth, 204-222, 251, 253 

Canute, King, 76, 82 

Cardigan, Lady, 310 

Carr, Robert, Earl of Somerset, 155 

Case, Dr. John, 230 

Catherine, St., 49 

Catherine's Chapel, St., 47-49 

Cattistock : carillon, 61 ; Celtic remains 

near, 57 

Cattistock Hunt, the, 17, 212, 317 
Cattogus, 54 
Cattug, 54 



Cerne Abbas (village), 116-120, 57, 75, 227, 

304, 311 

Cerne Abbey, 117-120, 54, 112, 115, 306 
Cerne Giant, 120, 54, 116 
Cerne, Book of, 120 
Chafin, William, 203-204 
Channing, Mary, 200 
Channing, Thomas, 200 
Chantmarle, 134 
Charborough Tower, 28 
Chard, 142 
Charles I, King, 167 
Charles II, 169-178 
Charmouth, 170-175, 35, 74, 239, 247 
Charmouth Hill, 15, 32, 171 
Chater, Daniel, 251-253 
Chequer, The (Portisham), 215 
Chesil Bank, the, 258-263, 9, 46 
Chideock, 116 
Chilcombe Down, 176 
Child Okeford, 313 
Chilfrome, 98 
Chrestoleros, 134-136 
Christchurch, 28 
Christ's Hospital, 145 
Church Knowle, 26, 29 
Churchill, family of, 195 
Churchill, Arabella, 195 
Churchill, Awnsham, 195 
Churchill, Charles, 195 
Churchill, George, 195 
Churchill, Winston, Sir, 195 
Cicuber, 81 

Clandon Barrow, 43, 44 
Claridge, John, 276-277 
Clarke, Richard, 140 
Clarke, William, 209-221 
Clavell (de Clavile), family of, 24, 95 
Clavell, Sir W., 24-25, 137 
Clavell, William, 247 
Clements, George, 213 
Clubmen, the, 166-168, 322 
Coach and Horses, The (Fordington), 216 
" Coal-money," 24 
Cogden Mere, 258 
Coller, Edward, 180 
Coker, John, 152, 202 
Coker, Robert, 180 
Compton Valence, 150, 59 
Coney's Castle, 289 
Coningsby, Miss Juliana, 173-178 
Constantino, 59 
Constantius, 56 
Coombe Bissett, 205, 218-219 
Coram, Thomas, 253-256 
Corfe Castle, 77-79, 20, 109-112, 123, 164 ^ 
Corfe Castle (village), 77-79, 28, 75, 111, 116, 

199, 230-231, 278 
Corfe, River, 29 
Corton, Thomas, 119 
Cox, Dr. Daniel, 220 
Crabbe, the Rev. George, 230, 318 
Cranborne, 95, 111, 166 [204 

Cranborne Chase, 203-204, 43, 53, 68, 203- 
Cranborne Manor, 133 
Crawford Bridge, see Spettisbury 
Crawford Castle, see Spettisbury Rings 
Cre$y, 114 



INDEX 



347 



Creech Barrow, 26-28, 23, 30, 289 
Crewkerne, 207, 243, 245 
Cromwell, Oliver, 93, 168 
Cross in Hand, 319 
Crowe, William, 273-274, 288-289 
Culverhouse, Lieut., 246 
Cumberland, Richard, 198-199 
Cups, The Three (Lyme Regis), 235 

Damory Court, 245 

Dancing Ledge, 22 

Daniel Press, the, 305 

D'Arblay, Madame, 226-227 

Dcadman's Bay, 247, 259 

De Albeny, William, 111 

De Aquila, 95, 98 

De Braose, W T illiam, 99 

Defoe, Daniel, 200-202, 41, 180, 314 

De Hesding, Ernulf, 99 

De Horsey family, 320 

Delacourt, Thomas, 184-185 

De Moulham, 96 

De Forth, Hugo, 150 

De Redvers, Baldwin, 108 

Desborough, Major, 168 

De Stokes, Walter, 113 

Devil, the, legends of, 18-19 (Isle of Wight), 

151 (Batcombe), 163 (alleged corybant at 

Dorchester), 319 (Cross in Hand) 
Devil's Bellows, the, 171, 239 
Dewlish, 15-16, 21 
Digby, Admiral Sir H., 247 
Digby (John), Lord, 231 
Digby, Admiral Robert, 247 
Dodington, George Bubb (Lord Melcombe), 

195-199, 203-204, 245 
Domesday Book, Chap. VI passim 
Dorchester, 39-41, 160-164, 75, 95, 111, 127, 

135, 144, 147,, 226-228, 237, 266, 279-281, 

284, 301-302, 305-306 

connection with Massachusetts, 160-163 

Jeffreys at, 183-184 

Labourers, 41 (see Labourers) 

merchants, 9, 201 

Roman remains, 55-61 
Dorchester, (Mass., U.S.A.), 40 
Dorchester, Joseph Darner, Lord (Baron 

Milton), 275-276, 245 

Dorchester Municipal Records, 164 

Dorsaetas, 55 

Dorsetshire Gap, the, 320 

Dorsetshire Regiments, see under Regiment, 
Territorials, Volunteers, Yeomanry 

Drax, 197 

Drogo, 98 

Duckpool, 291. 

Dumouriez, 247 

Dunium (see also Maiden Castle and Dor- 
chester), 40, 56, 67 

Dunstan, St., 77 

Dunster, firm of (Lyme Regis), 235 

Durnovaria, 67 

Durotriges, the, Chap. IV passim, 27, 48-49 

Durweston, 76, 321 

Dynasts, The, 247 

Eastbury, 195, 198 
East Stour, 312 



Edward, King and Martyr, 77-89, 75 

Edward, King (son of Alfred), 75 

Edward the Confessor, 76, 94, Chap. VI 

passim 

Edward I, 111 
Edward II, 111 
Egbert, King, 74 
" Egdon" Heath, 67, 123 
Eggardon Hill and Camp, 68-69, 4, 99-100, 

208-210, 289 

Roman road at, 56-57 

" Elephant Bed of Dewlish," 15-16 
Elephas meridionalis, 16, 21 
Elfrida, 77-78 

Elizabeth (wife of Robert Bruce), 83 
Elizabeth, Queen, Chap. VIII passim, 93 
Ellesdon, William, 170-178 
Elliston, 228 
Elmer, 99 

Enclosures, Cliap. XIII-XV passim 
Encombe Glen (house and park), 23, 26, 278 
Endicott, John, 161 
Entield, 204-222 
Enmore Green, 85-86 
Ethelhelm, alderman, 74 
Ethelred, King, 77-78, 82, 265 
Ethelwulf, King, 74 
Ettricke, Anthony, 151, 181 
Evershot, 317-318, 230 
Excavations in Cranborne Chase, 58-59, 304- 
305 

Fair Down, 209 
Fairfax, Lord, 165-168 
Fair Field, 209 
Falconry, Book of, 137 
Farnham, 304 
Farnham, Alice, 207-208 
Field Club, Dorset, 302 

Proceedings, quoted, 138, 202 
Fielding, Henry, 312, 201, 205, 229, 271 

quoted, 196, 204, 230 
Fifehead Neville, 321 
Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L., 229 
Fitzherbert, Mrs., 227 

Fives Court Inn, The, 9 

Flax-growing and weaving, 9, 44 

Fleet, River, 263 

Fleet, 264-265 

Flowersbarrow, 30, 57, 67, 169 

Fontmell Magna, 79, 322 

Fonts, 98, 118, 121, 123, 124, 265, 289, 293 

Ford, John, 213 

Fordingbridge, 251-252 

Fordington, 216-217 

Fordington Church, 40, 54, 96 

Fordington Field, 42, 202, 306 

Formidable, H.M.S., 34 

Foundling Hospital, the, 253-255 

Fownes, Thomas, 203 

Frampton, Roman villa, 54 ; Church, 192 

Frampton, James, 279 

Frampton, Mary, 277-279 

Frederick, Prince of Wales, 196-197, 225 

Frederick William, Prince, 196 

Friar Waddon, 266 

Frome, River, 27, 30, 76, 97, 160, 163, 320 

Frome Belet, 98 



318 



INDEX 



Frome St. Quintin, 318, 98 

Frome Vauchurch, 97-98, 151 

Fry, John, 210 

Fuller, Thomas, 161 

quoted, 160-161, 175-176 

Galley, Exciseman, 253 

Gape, John, 163 

Gascoyne, Sir Crisp, 205 

Gaveston, Piers, 111 

Gawler, William, 271 

George III, Chaps. X, XII, XIII passim 

George IV, 227 

George Inn, The (Bridport), 173-175, 249 

George Inn, The (Broadwindsor), 177-178 

German prisoners, 40, 328 

Gibbons, Mary, 213 

Gifford, Sir Osbert, 83 

Gillingham, 43, 76.. Ill 

Gladman, Francis, 210-211 

Gloucester, Duke of, 227 

Gloucester Terrace (Weymouth), 227 

Godwin, Earl, 76 

Golden Cap, 31-34, 233, 234, 289 

Gollop of Strode, 95, 283-286 

Gollop, John, 162 

Goring, Lord, 165, 166 

Gould, A. W., 164 

Grange, 169 

Grange Hill, 169 

" Granny's Teeth," 233 

Graunt, John, 163 

Gray, Walter, 147 

Green, F. K, 310-311 

Gregory, Arthur, 138 

Grenville, Sir Richard, 143 

Grey, Mr. Angel, 163 

Grey, Lord, 180 

Grey, the Rev. William, 327 

" Grey Mare and her Colts," 47, 150 

Greyhound, The (Bridport), 237 

Grey's Bridge, 217 

Grimaldi, 228 

Grimstone, 150, 271-272 

Grip, Hugh, son of, see Hugh 

Grosvenor Arms, The, 237 

Grove, The, 235 

Grove, William Chafin, 212 

Guiana, 155 

Gun Cliff, 233 

Gundry, " Mr.," 202 

Gundry, Mr. Justice, 206 

Gussage Down, 64 

Gussage All Saints, 64 

Haines, William, 215 
Hakluyt, quoted, 137 
Hambledon Hill, 168, 313 
Hamilton, John, 148 
Hamilton, William Kerr, 305-306 
Hammet (smith), 174 
Hammett, James, 279-283 
Hammoon, 116 
Hamworthy, 57 
Hancock, Thomas, 162 
Handley, 160 
Handley Down, 56 
Har Dcwn, 175, 291 



Hardy, Thomas, 299-300, 41, 247-248, 305 

quoted, 28, 40, 93, 267, 297, 300, 301, 313 
315 

topography of works, 339-341 
Hardy Monument, the, 45, 27 

Hardy, Sir Thomas Masterman, 245-247, 150 

Hardy, William, 164 

Harold, King, 76, 95 

Harrod's, 237-238 

Hawkins, John, 213 

Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur, 283 

Henry III, 152 

Henry VII, 131, 147 

Henry VIII, 83, 112, 132, 134, 147 

Henry, Prince, 108 

Henstridge, 203 

High Stoy, 28, 320 

Hill, John, 205 

Hillary, Ann, 283 

Hilton, 320-321 

Hod Hill, 55, 313 

Holies, Denzil, 160, 176 

Holies, family of, 167 

Holme bridge, 137 

Holt Lodge, 181 

Holton Heath, 123 

Honniborne, Roger, 163 

Hood, family of, 243-244 

Hood, Alexander, 243-244, 245 

Hood, Hon. H. L. A., 244 

Hood, Samuel, Viscount, 244 

Hood, Sir Samuel, 244 

Hooke, 31, 176 

Hoskins, Peter, 167 

Hoskins, Robert, 163 

Hudson, W. H., 77, 117 

Hugh Fitz Grip, 95, 99, 265 

Hunt, Henry, M.P., 278 

Hunt, Henry, 173-174 

Hunt, Thomas, 218 

Hunting (see also Cattistock Hunt), 17, 203, 

212 

Huson, James, 203 

Hutchins, historian of Dorset, 190-192, 204 
quoted, 113, 119, 121, 151, 169, 202, 227, 

289, 318 

[bberton, 321 

[bernium, 67 

[Ichester, 57 

[Ichester, Lord (see also Strangways), 259 

India : East India Company, 192-194 

Invincible, H.M.S., 244 

[vernio, 67 

Iwerne Minster, 79, 96, 311 

Ja'afar Pasha, 323 

James I, King, 147, 155-156, 180-185, 265 

Jeffreys, Lord, C. J., 181-185 

Testy, Dr. Benjamin, 230 

Joanereidos, 164 

John, King, 111, 99, 100, 108, 110 

Joliffe, Peter, 249 

Jones, Rhys, 177 

Jourdan, Sylvester, 144-145 

Jude the Obscure, 314 

Turd an, see Jourdan 



INDEX 



349 



Kean, Charles, 228 

Kebbel, T. E., 309 

Ketch, John, 181-182 

Kimmeridge (village and district), 23-25, 30. 

137 

Kimmeridge shale, 23-25 
King s Anns, The (Dorchester), 237 
King's Customs, The, 253 
King's Stag Bridge, 152 
Kingston, 26 

Kingston Russell, 146-147, 245 
Kingston Russell House, 150 

" Labour in Vain," 47 

" Labourers, the Dorchester," 279-283, 41, 

122, 311 

Labourers, Statutes of, 115, 107 
Lambert's Castle, 56, 289 
Lancaster, Joseph, 228 
Lane, Jane, 176 
Lang, Andrew, 204, 222 
Langdon Hill, 33 
Langton Herring, 265 
Langton Matravers, 231 
Larcombe, Thomas, 102 
Larke, William, 184 
Larmer Tree, 304 
Laurence, Capt. John, 169 
Lee Lane, 175-176 
Legros, Alphonse, 300 
Leigh, 152 
Lewis, Samuel, 266 

Lewsdon Hill, 289-290, 27-28, 33, 171, 274 
Lewsdon Hill (poem), 274 
Lias formations, 33-34 
Lillington, 152 
Lillington, Mary, 203 
Limbry, Stephen, 170-173 
Lisle, Alice, 183 
Little Commonwealth, the, 152 
Little Frome, 318 
Little Sea, 18-19 
Little Windsor, 243 

Litton Cheney, 149-150, 176, 208-212, 214 
Loders, 99, 176, 245 
Long Burton, 152 
Long Bredy, 150 
Look Farm, 149 

Loveless, George and James, 279-283 
Lud, King, 81 
Lulworth Castle, 227 
Lulworth, East, 110 
Lulworth, West (Lulworth Cove), 31 
Lydden, River, 313, 320 
Lyme Regis, 232-239, 15, 33-34, 110, 141- 

145, 170-171, 247 

the Cobb, 34, 110, 171, 179, 232-234 

siege of, 165 

Monmouth at, 179-181 
Lyrical Ballads, 274 
Lytchett Bay, 18 

Macaulay, Lord, 165, 184, 235 
Macey, Capt., 174-177 
Mackerel fisheries, 260-261, 147 
Macready, William, 201 
Madras System, the, 228-229 
Maiden Castle, 41-44, 40, 61, 227 



Maiden Newton, 96-98, 115 
Mai Dun, see Maiden Castle 
Malan, Solomon Caesar, 308 
Mapperton, South, 99 
Mapperton, 99, 134 
Mappowder, 320 
Maps, geological, 15 

Tudor, 19, 26 

one-inch Ordnance, 22, 63, 286-287, 291, 
Appendix, passim 

Marblers of Purbeck, 20-21 

Margaret of Anjou, 111-112, 131 

Margaret Marsh, 312 

Maryborough, Duke of, 195 

Marlott, 93 

Marshwood, 76, 290 

Marshwood Vale, 283-294, 14, 68, 171-172, 
237, 273 

Martin, 218-219 

Martin, family of, 95, 121 

Martinstown, 45 

Marvell, Andrew, 143-145 

Masefield, John, 251 

Massachusetts, 161-163, 254 

Massey, Capt., 174-177 

Matilda, Queen, 107 

Maumbury Rings, 59, 40, 201, 302 

Mayo, C. H., 164 

Mayor of Casterbridge, The, 127 

Meeres, of Sherborne, 153-164 

Melbury Down, 28, 79-80 

Melbury House, 134, 178, 318 

Melbury Sampford, 178, 318 

Melcombe, Lord, see Dodington 

Melcombe Regis, 110, 114, 142, 166, 267 

Melplash, 284 

Meredith, George, 308 

Miles, Walker, 286 

Milton Abbas, 275-276, 116, 191, 227, 245, 
309 

Milton Abbey, 320-321, 75, 112, 115 

Milton Grammar School, 191, 245 

Milton, Lord, see Dorchester, Lord 

Minerve, H.M.S., 246 

Minterne, 319-320 

Minterne, John (" Conjuring "), 151 

Mints in Dorset, 10 (Bridport), 40 (Dorches- 
ter), 75 

Miraculum-Basilicon, 174 

Mitford, Mary Russell, 234-235 

Miz-mazes in Dorset, 152 

Mockeridge, Thomas, 216 

Monerieff, A. S. Hope, 286 

Mohun family, 95, 98-99, 265 

Monkton Wyld, 172 

Monmouth, Duke of, 178-185, 34, 168, 169, 
235, 290 

More, Hannah, 228 

More, Sir Thomas, 131, 284 

More, family of, 284-286 

Morecombelake, 175 

Moreton, Cardinal, 111, 124, 131 

Moreton, Earl of, 98, 149 

Moritz, Carl Philipp, 229 

Morris, Mary, 219 

Mosterton, 243-244 

Motcombe, 312 

Motley, J. L., 150, 308 



INDEX 



Moule, H. J., 112, 138, 164, 261, 319 

Mount Pleasant, 209 

Mowlem, 96 

Muckleford Lake, 272 

Mupe's Eocks, 31 

Musgrave, Louisa, 232 

Napier, family of, 147-148 

Napier, Sir James, 147-148 

Napier, Sir Robert, 147-148 

Napoleon, 93, 247-248 

" Napper's Mite," 147 

National Society for Promoting the Educa- 
tion of the Children of the Poor in the 
Principles of the Established Church, the, 
228-229 

Nelson, Horatio, 244-247 

Nepean, Sir Evan, 245 

Netherbury, 284-287, 103, 245 

Nettlecombe Tout, 320 

Newburgh, William of, 111 

Newcastle, Duke of, 197-198 

Newfoundland, Dorset trade with, 139-140, 9 

New Inn, The (Mosterton), 243 

Norman buildings, etc. : St. Aldhelm's 
Head, 23 ; Chap. VI passim ; Piddletown, 
121 ; Turner's Piddle, 123 ; Bere Regis, 
124 ; Portisham, 265 ; Stoke Abbot, 288 

North Chideock, 291 

Norton, the Hon. Mrs., 308 

Oglander, family of, 283 

Okeford Common, 321 

Okeford Fitzpaine, 116, 321, 322 

Old Harry, 18-19 

Old Ship, The (Abbotsbury), 213-214 

Ore, 76 

Orchard, 95 

Ox Drove, 64, 65, 79-80 

Page, Harry, 109-110 

Paget, Mr. Stephen, 328 

Palgrave, F. T., 233, 235 

Palladour (see Shaftesbury), 80 

Parnham, 283, 124 

Paulet, Robert, 167 

Peasants' Revolt, the, 115, 159 

Pelagius, 54-55, 60 

Pentridge Hill, 66, 64, 219, 289 

Peter of Pomfret, 108 

Peters, Henry, 171 

Philip, Archduke of Austria, 146, 40 

Philips, Miles, 141-142 

Piddle, River, 27, 320 

Piddlehinton, 120-121 

Piddletown, 121-122, 184, 291 

Piddletrenthide, 120 

Pilsdon Pen, 289-290, 27-28, 31, 55, 67, 69, 

171 

Pilsdon Manor, 177, 289 
Pimperne, 162, 195 
Pinney, family of, 273, 290 
Pinney, Azariah, 290 
Pirates, 138-139, 166, 248, 250-251 
Pitt, family of, 194 
Pitt, Christopher, 196 
Pitt, John, 193-194 
Pitt, Robert, 194 



Pitt, Thomas, 192-195 

Pitt, Thomas, Dr., 194-195 

Pitt, Thomas, Lord Londonderry, 194 

Pitt, William, Lord Chatham, 194, 197, 227, 

235 

Pitt, William, 194, 247 
Pitt, William Moreton, 247-248, 274-275 
Pitt Diamond, the, 194 
Pitt-Rivers, Gen., 304-305 
Plague in Dorset, 41, 107, 114, 165, 284-285 
" Plouncing," 163 
Pomice, 284 

Ponsonby, John (Lord Bessborough), 278 
Poole, 109-110, 139-142, 162-163, 165-166, 

248-249, 251-253 
Poole Harbour, 26-28, 18, 58 
Poore, Richard, bishop, 113 
Poorton, North, 99 
Poorton, South, 102 
Port Coombe, 267 
Porter, Betty, 203 
Porter, Mr., of Exeter, 175, 178 
Portisham, 264-266, 46, 215, 246-246 
Portland, Isle of, 27, 30-31, 33, 48, 74, 76, 

139, 165, 166, 201, 234, 247, 248, 259 
Portland Harbour, 7, 46 
Portland Castle, 110 
Portland sheep, 201 
Portland Race, 22, 259 
Portland stone, 14, 22, 23 
Portman, Lord (first), 277, 306 
Pottery clay, 14-15, 28 
Pouncey, family of, 163-164 
Poundbury, 41, 75, 278, 302 
Powerstock, 99-103, 97, 110-111, 176, 291, 

Castle, 111 

results of his excavations, 43, 53-54, 68- 
60, 68 

Poxwell, 134 

Prior, Arthur, 199-200 

Prior, Catherine, 199-200 

Prior, Matthew, 199 

Puckstone, the, 19-20 

Pulpits, 118, 121, 122 

" Pummery," 41 

Puncknowle, 148-149, 259 

Purbeck, Isle of, 20-31, 111, 123, 166, 248 

Purbeck Marble, 20-22, 14, 23 

Queen's Arms, The (Charmouth), 171-174 

Racedown, 273 

Rainbarrow, 66, 67 

Rake Hill, 320 

Raleigh, Carew, 142 

Raleigh, Carew, Jr., 155-156 

Raleigh, Sir W., 153-156 

Rampisham, 116 

Rawlsbury, 321, 67, 324 

Red Lion, The (South Perrott), 207 

Regiment, the Dorsetshire, 322-323 

(Territorial Battns.), 323-324 

Retrospective Review, The, 203 

Revenge, the, 143 

Rhodes-Moorhouse, Lieut. R. W. B., V.C., 

322 

Riccard, Sir Andrew, 264 
Richards, John, 202-203 



INDEX 



351 



Richmond, Sir William, 300 

Ridge way, 215-216 

Ring's Hill, 30-31 

Ringstead Cliff, 45 

Ringwood, 181, 185 

Robert of Gloucester, 108 

Roberts, Francis, 245, 247 

Roberts, George, of Lyme Regis, 165. 180, 

235 

Rockbourne Down, 65 
Roman amphitheatre (Maumbury Rings), 40 

buildings in Dorset, 40 (Dorchester), 53, 
58-59 (Cranborne Chase), 54 (Frampton) 
57, 59 (Weymouth) 321 (Fifehead Neville) 

camps, Hod Hill and Pilsdon Pen, 55 

roads, Chap. IV passim, 115 
Rood-screens, stone, 118 
Rope-making, 9, 284 

Royal Lion, The (Lyme Regis), 235-238 
Russell, John, Earl of Bedford, 146-147 
Russell, Lord John, afterwards Earl Russell, 

147 

Russell, William Lord, 181-182 
Ryall, 291 
Ryves, family of, 244-245 

Sabbin, John, 272 

Sadler, John, 168-169 

St. Loe, John, 167 

Sagittary, Dr. Frederick, 230 

Salheld, Lieut., O.C., 322 

Sarah Sands, the, 323 

Sarum, Old, 55-56 

Saxon buildings, etc., Chap. V passim ; and 

48, 99, 121 

Screaming Skull, the, 290 
Sedgemoor, 181, 183 
Selwood Forest, 43 
Severn, river and " Sea," 27 
Shaftesbury, 79-89, 43, 57, 75, 76, 181, 186, 

202, 265, 313, 322 
Shaftesbury, first Earl of, 160 

third Earl of, 306, 308 

seventh Earl of, 305-308, 278 
Shakespeare, William, 141-145 
Sharedon, 291 

Shaston, see Shaftesbury 

Sheep, Dorset breeds of, 132-133, 14, 65,201, 

236, 238, 271, 312, 314 
Sherborne, 153, 145, 165-166, 178, 201, 202, 

227 

Sherborne Abbey, 74, 112-113, 153, 231-232 
Sherborne Castle, 153-156, 111, 164, 278 
Sherborne Causeway, 312 
Sheridan, family of 192 
Shillingstone, 313, 320-322 
Simeon, the Rev. Charles, 230 
Skimmity-riding, 127 
Sloop Aground, The (Ridgeway), 215 
Slowe, Margaret, 271-272 
Smedmore, 23-25, 95, 137, 321 
Smith, the Rev. Sidney, 228 
Smithams, 272 

Smugglers in Dorset, 251-253, 120, 221-222 
Somers, Sir George, 143-145 
Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, 261, 

319 
South Perrott, 207-210 



Spain, wars with, 109-110, 139-143, 266 
Spettisbury bridge (Crawford bridge), 137 
Spettisbury Rings (Crawford Castle), 66-67, 

56, 61 

Spread Eagle, The (Basingstoke), 219 
Squires, George, Lucy and Mary, 204-222 
Stanfield, John and Thomas, 279-283 
Start Point, 45, 232, 259 
Steeple, 29, 133 
Stevens, Alfred, 300-301 
Stinsford, 299-300 
Stoborough, 78, 166 
Stoborough Heath, 15 
Stoke Abbot, 288-289, 274 
Stonebarrow Hill, 32, 234 
Stour, River, 27, 152, 168, 312-314 
Stour Provost, 279 
Stourpaine, 310 

Strangways, family of, 178, 318 
Strangsways, Giles, 178 
Strangways, John, 178 
Strode, 283-286, 95 
Strong, James, 164 
Studland, 139 
Studland Heath, 139 
Sturminster Newton, 312, 313, 279, 307 
Sutton Poyntz, 267 
Swaffield, Matthew, 163 
Swanage, 20-21, 75, 96, 229, 231 
Swannery (Abbotsbury), 261-263 
Sweyn, 40, 76 
Swire Head, 45 
Swyre, 147, 170, 269 
Sydenham, Dr. Thomas, 230 
Sydling St. Nicholas, 116, 150-151 
Symondsbury, 291-293, 321 
parish boundary, 8 

Tarrant Hinton, 218 

Tarrant Keynes, 113 

Taunton, Mass., 254 

Tawney Down, 217-218 

Taylor, John, 216-217 

Tempest, The, 143-146 

Tennyson, Alfred, 233, 236 

Tess of the D' Urberilles, 93, 124, 300, 312, 319 

Thane, Farmer, 219 

Thistle, H.M.S., 245 

Thompson, William, 248-249 

Thorncombe Beacon, 32, 234, 289 

Thornhill, Sir James, 198 

Three Horseshoes, The ( Wynyard's Gap), 207- 

208 

Tidpit, 252 

Tilly Whim " Caves," 20-21 
" Tipput," 252 

Tobacco, first smoked in Dorset, 153 
Todber, 312 
Tola, 76 

Toller Down Gate, 209 
Toller Fratrum (Little Toller), 98-100 
Toller Porcoram (Great Toller), 98-99, 209 
Toller Whelme, 209 
Tolpiddle, 122, 76, 290, 282 
Toner's Piddle, 123 
Tottenham, 220 
Transportation, 10, 278-283 
Traveller's Guide, The, 176 



352 



INDEX 



Trenchard, family of, 95, 166, 197 

Trenchard, Sir George, 143 

Trenchard, Sir Thomas, 147, 40 

Trent, 169-178 

Treswell, Ralph, 19, 26 

Treves, Sir Frederick, 313, 317 

Trimmer, Mrs. Sarah, 16, 228 

Trowbridge, 230 

Troy, 152 

Trulliber, Parson, original of, 312 

Trumpet-Major, The, 247-248, 267 

Trussebut, Agatha, 111 

Turberville family, 95, 122, 124, 138 

Turn worth Hill, 321 

Turner, Mrs. Dance, 212 

Tutchin, John, 184 

Tuxbury, Mary, 163 

Two on a Tower, 28 

Tyneham, 29, 30 

Udal, Judge, 290 

Under the Greenwood Tree, 300 

Up-Cerne, 151 

Up-Lyme, 151, 234 

Up-Sydling, 150-151 

Up-Wey, 151, 266 

Valley of Stones, 46 

Venerie or Hunting, Book of, 137 

Venner, Col., 179-181 

Vespasian, 48, 60, 65 

Victoria County History (Dorset), quoted, 

113, 140 
Vindogladia, 64 
Vinney, Blue, 236, 238 
Visscher, drawing by, 182-183 
Volunteers, the Dorset, 318, 323 

Wadham, Nicholas, 285 
Waite, Thomas, 163 
Wake, Andrew, 213 
Wake, William, 165 
Walditch, 176 
Waleran, 96-98 
Wallace, A. R., 308 
Wallace, Daniel, 213 
Walsingham, Sir F., 116, 138 
Wareham, 78-79, 28, 74, 75, 95, 96, 108-111 
165-166, 169, 185, 191-192, 278, 305 

Church (St. Mary's), 54, 78 

Church, Saxon, 74 

great fire, 191-192 

Priory, 78 
Warmwell, 169 
Weare, Robert, 264 



Weare, William, 264 
Weld family, 227 
Wells, Susannah, 204-222 
iVesley, Bartholomew, 174 
Weslej% John, 174, ]92, 230-231 
West Bay, see Bridport Harbour 
West Chickerel, 265 

Weymouth, 266-267, 74, 109, 126, 138-142, 
154, 166, 184, 201, 225-228, 244 

Roman remains at, 57-59, 195-199 

George III at, 225-228 

Whitchurch Canonicorum, 290-291, 75, T6, 

143, 288 

White, Robert, 119 
White, the Rev. John, 160-163, 168 
White Hart, Forest of, 152 
Wight, Isle of, 19, 27, 45, 321 
William the Conqueror, Chap. VI passim, 

118 

William III, 185 
Wilmot, Lord, 170-178 
Wimborne, 74-75, 199-200, 201, 265 
Wimborne estates, 311 
Wimborne Grammar School, 191 
Wimborne Minster, 112, 66, 74-75, 96, 181 

clock in, 13, 27 
Wimborne St. Giles, 307 
Winfrith Newburgh, 184, 277-279 
Winniford, River, 291 
Winterborne Came, 301 
Winterborne St. Martin, 44 
Winterborne Steepleton, 203 
Winterborne Stickland, 321 
Wite, St., 75, 291 

Wolverton Manor, 40, 146 
Wood, Anthony, 163 
Wood, Robert, 272 
Woodbury Hill Fair, 318 
Woody ates, 59, 65, 181 
Wool, 95, 138 
Wool Bridge, 137 
Worbarrow Point, 31 
Wordsworth, William, 273-274, 303 
Worth Matravers, 230 
Wraxall, 176 
Wyndham, Col, 169-178 
Wyndham, Mrs., 169-178 
Wynford Eagle, 95, 98 
Wynyard'e Gap, 207-210 



Yeomanry, the Dorset, 278-279 
Yeovil, 169, 175, 207 
Yetminster, 319 
Young, Thomas, 166-168 




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